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Sherwood Park Alberta's

Most Trusted Resume Writer!

MARK KARPINKA

FOUNDER OF WRITE MY RESUME

  • I have 15 years of progressive Human Resources Management experience and my expertise is in Talent Management, Recruitment, and Employee Relations.
  • I've been fortunate to work in senior-level, HR Management roles for a variety of private businesses and government institutions.
  • I have a Bachelors degree, HR Management certificate, and a Data Analytics certificate.
  • I run Write My Resume (and other online business ventures) from my home in Sherwood Park, Alberta, Canada.
  • My business partner is my dog, Benny. 

Write My Resume- The Blog

Mark Karpinka shares his thoughts on resumes, cover letters, and "career counselling questions" that are posed to him from his clients.

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Imperfection is Sexy

It’s been way too long since my last blog and I’m really mad at myself. I made a promise to write one blog every week. (The only exception was when I was on vacation. Sadly, I was not on vacation.) Forgetfulness or laziness or both got the better of me. I do not know if you are like me when you do hit your goals, but it stinks; and right now, I feel like I failure.

Perfection is hard. Maybe too hard? Do I set myself up for failure when I make my goals too hard to reach? Aren’t you supposed to? Are we not supposed to be the best we can be? Isn’t this the point? If I make my goals too easy, am I learning anything? Am I just settling? How the heck can imperfection be sexy?

Okay, I metaphor just popped into my mind. It’s a cool one and it begins with a short story.

I’m sitting in my first year Psych 101 class. I’m one of five hundred or so students crammed into a stuffy auditorium. I do not remember if I was eager to learn or just hungry, but I do remember something stirring in me. Still to this day when I have a bunch of nervous energy in me I have to do something, anything to relieve the energy. Ninety-nine times out of hundred, I will pull out a book and read. The only thing on me that day was my textbook. I cracked it open and stumbled upon a pretty neat study. I can’t remember who did it or when, but I do remember the gist of it. The study was on “beauty” and what makes one person more physically beautiful than another. Basically what they did study each body part. But they found nothing particularly different. What they found was that each body part was actually incredibly “average”. In other words, the most beautiful people were made up of a combination of “average” parts.

Sexy is imperfection and imperfection is sexy. It’s not a matter of setting easy goals. It’s a matter of setting attainable goals! It’s a matter of setting goals within reach! This is not settling. This is good goal-setting! We learn just as much in little steps as we do when big AHA moments take place. Big, little… it’s really a matter of perception, is it not?

Of course it is. When you do not reach a goal, maybe instead of cursing yourself, you need to relook at your goal and see if it is realistic. If it is, praise yourself for your solid goal-setting skills. If your goal is unattainable, praise yourself too for discovering the error! You could have spent more months failing and what a waste of time that would have been! Amend your goal and move on.

So is my goal of writing one blog per week realistic. Yes. It’s a darn good goal. I think I’ll add one more exception to it. If I miss a week, and I’m not on vacation, then I will consider myself an imperfect, sexy blog writer.

Until next time,

Mark Karpinka

Resume Writer and HR Pro

Founder of www.writemyresume.ca

May 5th 2019

Can You Spare 20 Seconds?

Congratulations! Just by reading this article and taking a well-deserved break, when you get back to work, you will be able to: increase your speed, accuracy and performance! How?

In a 2003 study, Balci & Aghazadeh found that the use of “micro-breaks” (ie. lasting 20-30 seconds) among data entry workers increased speed, accuracy and performance. [1]

If you keep reading (i.e. take an even longer break), you will see even more benefits:

·         concentration,

·         alertness,

·         work speed,

·         lower stress and your risk for on-the-job accidents, soreness, musculoskeletal disorders, and eyestrain.

·         a smaller waistline, lower body mass index (BMI), and lower triglyceride levels. [1]

How?

Extend your break from 20-30 seconds and take 5 minutes. Yes, you can spare 5 minutes. 5 minutes can help you be better! Seriously, just try one of the activities below for 5 minutes.

·         Take a short walk away from your workstation.

·         Stand up and stretch or walk in place at your desk without looking at your computer monitor.

·         Get out of your chair whenever you take phone calls at your desk.

·         Change positions at your workstation.

·         Have a drink of water or a light snack. [2]

Did you do one of the activities? If you did, way to go! You probably feel awesome. If you didn’t, well, the cool thing is that you are still reading this article (i.e. extending your break), which is taking your mind off of work and refueling it with some good, old-fashioned mindfulness. What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness refers to a state of being fully present in the present moment, accepting each moment as it arises. [3] Over the last few years, a large number of studies have confirmed that the practice of mindfulness leads to enhanced performance, an improved sense of well-being, reduced stress and burnout, and increased ability to remain calm in difficult work situations. Research has shown that the practice of mindfulness result in:

·         Greater insight, receptivity, balance and clarity for oneself and others (Kabat-Zinn, 1990, 2003)

·         Greater leadership presence and authenticity (Langer, 2005; Santorelli, 2000)

·         Increased energy and sense of well-being and expands awareness and range of our responses (Kabat-Zinn and Santorelli, 2002)

·         Increased life span, greater creativity and lesser burnout (Langer, 1989)

·         Improves interpersonal relationships at work (Hunter and McCormick, 2009). [1]

Woo-hoo! Whoever thought reading an article would bring such awesomeness!

Okay, maybe you’re starting to feel guilty and feel like you should stop reading this article and get back to work. I get it. I am feeling guilty even writing this! But I want to give you one more tidbit. Here it is:

·         People who take vacations have lower stress, less risk of heart disease, a better outlook on life, and more motivation to achieve goals. [4]

·         It doesn’t have to be 2 weeks in Europe, either. Just 24 hours away, and you’ll reap the benefits. [4]

·         Even better, the biggest boost in happiness comes from planning the vacation. You can feel the effects up to 8 weeks before your trip. And when you’re done with that retreat, start planning the next one. Simply having something to look forward to can be rewarding. [4]

Aren’t you happy you decided to spare 20 seconds?

Thought so.

Mark Karpinka

Founder of writemyresume.ca

February 28th 2019

If Only Every On-Boarding Program Had a Bob Steele

RE: This is an blog I wrote about four years ago. I came across it and thought I should really post it again.



Over this last weekend, I found out that my friend, Bob Steele, passed away. My heart is breaking for his family. I am hurting too.

In times like these, I’ve found it very difficult to find the right words to express my feelings. But I’m going to do my best. If you knew Bob, that’s all he ever wanted from the people he worked with, your best with the best you got on that day, nothing more, nothing less, just the best of you. So here goes…

·         Ah man… if only every on-boarding program had a Bob Steele, then every new hire in the first five minutes on the job would get a warm hello. These new hires would find out later on in the week that Bob goes out of his way to meet the new hires. No one had ever asked him to. He just felt it was the right thing to do.

·         If only every on-boarding program had a Bob Steele, then first thing every morning, you’d get treated to a good morning. Afterwards, you’d take a seat at your desk, turn on your computer and smile while you think to yourself, “That Bob Steele is a good man. I’m lucky to work with him” Someone else would walk by your office, and you’d think of Bob and feel like paying that good feeling forward with a Good Morning of your own to that person on the team. “Good morning,” you’d yell.

·         If only every on-boarding program had a Bob Steele, then you would learn the stuff that really matters in the workplace. You would learn the unwritten rules. You would get a map to navigate successfully through the mine fields. You would learn who’s who in the zoo. You would learn that you matter in the workplace, which Bob had a way of reminding you exactly when you needed to hear it. You would feel a part of things. You would get thank you’s. You would feel so very blessed that you got the job.

·         Ah man, if only every on-boarding program had a Bob Steele, then you would get to experience what Human Resources tries so painstakingly to make: an on-boarding program that is wholly ‘human’ with less, meaningless 'resources’. You would work with someone who works from the heart, isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty, and appreciates who you are and what you bring to the table. You get to be you, all the best you have wrapped up in the parts you still hope to complete. You don’t get a checklist but a guy who makes sure you get everything you need. You get someone who has your back and who you can count on in good times and bad times.

If only, if only, if only… bad times.

In times like this, it seems there are a million 'if only’s’. But I do know one thing for sure, there was only one Bob Steele.

I never got to say thank you. Thank you, Bob. Thank you for being your best, nothing more, nothing less, and for being one hell of a good friend.

Mark Karpinka

Founder of writemyresume.ca

February 11th 2019

Ready, Aim, Hire! The Recruiter’s Silver Bullet

I’ve had the privilege of interviewing thousands of people in my Human Resources roles. That privilege afforded me a great opportunity to learn. I’d like to share a recruiting silver bullet with you now that I hope will bring you success.

The silver bullet I’ll be sharing is not the job ad. You can write as many words as you want, in the coolest font, and with adjectives out the ying-yang. But in the end, people will apply to your job because of the pay, job title, and company (with pay and title a toss-up as to first and second, but the company always comes in last- no matter what the candidates may tell you to feed your ego during the interview).

The silver bullet is not your interview room. You can have the nicest paintings on the walls that say “teamwork” or “respect” or even a 15th century desk made out of mahogany, but this is just the stuff in the room. Really solid candidates see past the glitz and glamor pretty quickly. These people are chomping at the bit to see how the room feels. They are waiting to see what the environment is like. Is it welcoming or threatening? Is it open or is it stuffy? If a candidate feels that the environment is welcoming and caring, then she will feel safe. If she feels safe, then her pre-interview nerves will begin to calm. If the nerves begin to calm, she will drop her guard. When she drop her guard, you have a shot at seeing who she really is and if she will fit into the job, the team and company. But while the environment is important, it is not the silver bullet.

The silver bullet is not all the new age gadgets like iPads or video-conferencing or every communication tool on the market these days that brings your voice to the person at the speed of light. I love my gadgets, but tech stuff is not the end all or be all of a successful recruitment. In fact, anything that makes the interviewers talk more should be avoided at all costs. Talking is the worst thing interviewers can do during an interview. If you as a recruiter find yourself talking more than the candidate, then you should find a new line of work. If you have a hiring manager talking too much on the panel, then hopefully, you can find a way to remind him why you are there in the first place: to find that person who fits the job, team and company. Period.

So what is the recruiting silver bullet? You probably guessed it. It’s the interviewer. It’s you. Your prep-work, knowledge, skills, patience, curiosity, ears, especially your ears, and your passion will either make you successful or have that awesome candidate running to your competitor. To be a successful recruiter, here are the three things I believe you need:

1.     Great Prep-Work. Abraham Lincoln said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening my axe.” For a recruiter, this means that you better know every aspect of that job you are recruiting to. Then when you do, prepare your questions to target those aspects! Don’t be lazy here. It may sound cute to ask a candidate what their favorite color is, but all you are doing in reality is burning dollars bills. Time is money. Spend your money wisely by preparing well and formulating a great interview plan. You will see a great Return On Investment!

2.     Listen. In my experience, the best interviewers are the best listeners. He does not think about the next question he is going to ask. Instead, he is solely focused in the present and listening attentively to the candidates answer. He watches body language. Identifies tone. Great interviewers are “in it to win it”. When you listen, when you truly listen, the spoken words become more than just language. The words “hit home” to that place inside of us all where the words take on meaning and understanding. If you can “really get” a candidate’s answer, then you will propel yourself light years closer to hitting the trifecta of a successful recruitment- job fit, team fit and company fit.

3.     A Sharp Pencil. Even world-class listeners know that relying on memory alone is a one-way ticket to Doomtown. Besides all the legal trouble you could bring to you and your company, after days of being locked in a stuffy interview and expending all that energy… it’s not a matter of if your memory will fail, it’s when. Write down those answers. Sharp pencils uncover great candidates. Broken pencils bring bad apples and lawsuits.

Prepare, question, listen and document. Repeat. Repeat until the candidate’s words resonate to a level of meaning and understanding.

Finding great people to join an organization is the most rewarding work there is. Best wishes in your upcoming recruitments.

Mark Karpinka

Founder of writemyresume.ca

February 8th 2019

The “Eat Crow and Love It” Challenge

Ever been scared to share an idea at a meeting? When it’s time to ask a guest speaker a question, do you keep your arm by your side instead of raising it in the air? Do millions of butterflies flutter furiously in the pit of your stomach at the very thought of speaking your mind right now?

It’s okay if you answered yes to any of these questions. It truly is. Fear is a human emotion, and you are human being, right?

But it’s not okay if fear is all you feel all of the time. It simply is not. While fear may be natural, it becomes wholly unnatural if you are using it to limit your life versus actualizing your potential.

I have one more question to ask you before I propose to you a challenge. The question is this, “Do you remember every one of those times when you held back from speaking or acting and do those memories burn in your guts with the words you should have said or actions you should have taken?” If you answer yes, then I want you to take this challenge.

Use this blog to Eat Crow and Love It. Huh? I want you to write the words you should have said or describe the action you should have taken many years ago in the comment section now. I want you to put yourself out there. I want you to give you a “do-over”. I want you to use your fear positively. I want you to see that what you write will not be stupid or dumb or embarrassing or have major negative consequences. Chances are very good that if you end up eating crow because of your words now, you will love it. It will taste sweet, not sour. It will light you up. It will light a spark that will burn a new desire: the desire to share your ideas at your next meeting, or provide you the energy to raise your arm even if the guest speaker has not even opened the floor to questions yet, or thank the universe that you have a million, well-intentioned and beautiful butterflies working for you!

David Schartz, a motivational writer and coach, wrote, “To fight fear, act. To increase fear, wait, put off, postpone.” Take the Eat Crow and Love It Challenge. Write what you should have said or acted upon in the past in the present now. Fight your fear with actions.

Take care and may your soft skill shine,

Mark Karpinka

Founder of www.writemyresume.ca

February 4th 2019

The Best Job Interview Advice is NOT to be YOURSELF

I’ve read thousands of job interview advice posts. 99.99% of them say that there is only one word you need to be successful in a job interview: yourself. The first four letters are true. But the last four letters are not. Let me tell you why the 0.01% advice is 100% correct.

Around ten years ago, my mentor and I were shooting the breeze. I can’t remember the specifics, but I will never forgot two words he told me that were the secret to interviewing well (and falling flat on your face).

“Most be people use the advice to be yourself,” he began, “But let’s face facts. It doesn’t work.”

I had to challenge him on this. “So you’re saying we should lie and be someone else?”

“No, no, no! Never lie. The truth is always easy to remember. But that’s not my point. Let me explain. The advice to be yourself is good. You can only be you. But the advice fails to give you a course of action. When someone tells me the secret to acing a job interview, I tell them to make sure they come to that interview armed with your stories. Stories connect us, and in a job interview, it’s all about making a connection is a short period of time.”

We talked a couple more minutes that day. I have to admit, I didn’t get his advice at the time, which is strange because I love stories! Looking back, I probably didn’t want to admit that my ego was hurt because I had been giving the advice to people for years to just be yourself.

Sometime later, I had a lightning bolt moment about his advice: tell your stories. Job Interview questions are normally written in what Human Resources Professionals call a “behaviorally descriptive interview” style. Every questions like this, “Tell me about a time…” or “Provide an example when…”. It’s really just a way to start a conversation, to share a story!

What my mentor was trying to teach me was this:

·         Study that job description. It will give you clues to the kinds of stories the interviewers want to hear from you.

·         The clues are the “skills” in the job description like communication, teamwork, time management, etc.

·         Don’t just be yourself, but arm yourself with your success stories that speak to those skills.

Remember, every good story has a beginning, middle and end. The best stories are short, sweet and leave you with a lesson. It’s ok to tell a story when you screwed up, but that story better end with how you solved the problem or learned something from it. Study your stories with your mind, but tell them from your heart. And lastly, keep your stories at a professional level.

I hope the advice to tell your stories works for you at your next job interview!  Take care and may your soft skills shine.

Mark Karpinka

www.writemyresume.ca

587-745-0823

January 22nd 2019

The Soft Skill that Saved My Career

You ever wake up with a memory so crystal clear that it rocks the foundation of your soul? That happened to me this morning. The memory was of my late father and I’d like to share it with you now.

I miss my Dad. He was my parent, mentor and friend. He passed away over eight years ago. The cool thing about having a Dad like my Dad was that even though he is no longer with me, all of his teachings are still a massive part of me.  And the crazy thing… he’s even still teaching me today.

About ten years or so, I’m talking with my Dad on the phone. I hate to admit this, but I usually called him when things were tough and I needed his advice. My Dad was the smartest guy I’ve ever met and he just had this way of putting things that made everything clear and simple and meaningful. I can’t remember the specifics of the conversation, but what resonates so deeply with me was the problem. I felt like my career had no meaning. I felt empty. I felt like I had gotten into the wrong business as Human Resources felt like all problems and no solutions. I was going on and on about my problems, who knows how long, and out of nowhere, my Dad begins to laugh. I asked him really angrily, “What’s so funny?”

He says really calmly, “Ah son, this business of people we got in… it would be a lot easier without the people!” Then I started to laugh. But then like clockwork, I went back to whining. He let me whine for a while, and when he felt a pause, he asked, “Mark, what’s really bugging you?”

I began to well up a bit. “I just feel like I’m not making a difference. I work in this world of advice and consultation and ideas… I just feel like I’m spinning my wheels.”

My Dad took a dramatic pause. (He liked to do this to collect his thoughts, but looking back now, I think he did this because secretly he wanted to be an actor.) Then he said, “The next time you help someone, right before they leave, ask them if you helped them. Ask them if they got what they needed from you. You’ll be surprised at what they say, and just as importantly, how you feel.”

I wanted to strangle him. He was usually so matter of fact and now he gives me some airy fairy advice that I was used to getting from my HR world. But the next day, reluctantly, I tried it. The first person answered this way, “Yeah, Mark, You always help me. Thanks.” It felt weird.

I decided to try it again. The next person said, “Yes. You’re a great help. Thanks.” Still weird, but starting to feel better.

I kept asking if I was providing good help, and to my surprise, most people were actually telling me I was! The people who said I didn’t- which bruised the ego, I’m not going to lie- well, it gave me a chance to help again and give them what they needed. In a crazy way, I so wanted to prove my Dad wrong, but in a twist, when you really think about it, he proved me right.

I never got a chance to tell my Dad, but he saved my career that day. You gave me a simple, but so very powerful question to use to make sure I was doing my job; and the answers that came back filled my emptiness. I think people who work in the business of people need that. We need to feel like our words matter and give meaning and provide comfort and results.

I guess the lesson, a lesson that stands the test of time… is this… ask and you shall receive.

Best wishes and may your soft skills shine,


Mark Karpinka

Founder of Write My Resume

www.writemyresume.ca

587-745-0823

January 17th 2019

Land That Next Job with Your Soft Skills

Good morning.

I came across a great article the other day that you need to read. It was put out by the BBC. Sean Coughlan of the BBC reports that a researching firm estimates that 88 billion pounds are lost due to lack of soft skills of employees. 88 billion!

This is an outrageous number for a guy like me who is used to work in “thousands”. It must be even harder for a number like that to sink in to the person reading this blog. I get it. When I first read the news, I kept thinking to myself, “So what? I improve my soft skills and companies get to make even more billions! Yippee! What am I going to get out of it?”

Then it hit me. What the individual gets out of it is this: You become a very valuable asset to companies across the globe when your soft skills are better than everyone else’s.

When you are looking for your dream job or trying to get that next promotion, you are looking for that edge over your competitors. Improving just one soft skill will give you a great edge; and improving a range of soft skills will provide you with a very mighty blade!

The Top Four Soft Skills listed in the article are:

1.       Communication

2.       Initiative

3.       Interacting with Customers, and

4.       Teamwork.

This is a solid list. In my experience, I always see Communication at the top, but I’d suggest that “public speaking” is the one that realy helps people move up the managerial ladder! Also, I’d recommend Conflict Resolution and Leadership skills to be added to your tool belt.

In the end, what it comes down to for YOU to answer is this: if soft skills are becoming more valuable in organizations across the globe, what are you doing to improve your soft skills?

Best wishes and may your soft skills shine,

Mark Karpinka

www.writemyresume.ca

January 15th 2019

Resumes… the Mistakes You Make

Good morning.

I came across a great article the other day that you need to read. It was put out on LinkedIn by Laszlo Bock, SVP, People Operations at Google. The article is titled The Biggest Mistakes I see on Resumes and How to Fix Them. This is a must read because it is simple, practical, and his advice works!

He lists five big mistakes. Chances are very, very good that if you look at your resume right now, you will have made at least one of these mistakes; and let’s face facts- even making one mistake on your resume can cost you an interview for your dream job.

In no particular order, here are the resume mistakes:

1.       Typos

2.       Length

3.       Formatting

4.       Confidential Information

5.       Lies

This is a solid list. It pleases me greatly to see someone of Mr. Bock’s calibre taking the time to remind us all that resume writing is a combination of good grammar, simplicity, clarity and being honest about your knowledge, skills, education and work experience. At WriteMyResume.ca, we strive to practice these great resume writing lessons. What makes our resume writing company stand out from the pack is that we provide our customers the expertise of Human Resources Professionals, the job experts who can help write “the best of you” in the language that Recruiters will understand, in a professional and legal manner and in a format that is clean, simple and grammatically correct.

In the end, your resume if a reflection of everything that is you to the world. You deserve to put your best foot forward, and at WriteMyResume.ca, we can help you shine!

Best wishes and happy job hunting,

Mark Karpinka

January 9th 2019

Never Underestimate the Receptionist in a Job Interview

In my past life as a Human Resources professional, one of things I did on a daily basis was interview people to see if he/ she would be a great fit for a job within my company. The ultimate hope was that during the interview, the person would be “100% authentic”. Simply put, the person would be and act as they would normally. Authenticity rarely happened. In the majority of cases, it wasn’t because people lie. It’s because that under the gun… in the pressure of on interview… fear and nerves change people. I learned quickly on that you had to do everything you could to identify the “real person”, so you could make an informed decision on whether to make an offer an employment. So why should you never underestimate the Receptionist in a job interview?

 

Some savvy HR Pros ask the Receptionist how the candidates treats people and acts while waiting in the receptionist area.

 

 

After every interview, I walked the candidate out of the interview room and back to the front entrance. I did this to be respectful; and also, it gave me an opportunity to ask our Receptionist how the person treated her. Why? While people are “on” when they encounter the HR Professional and Hiring Manager, people “let their guard down” in the waiting room. So a great resource to get additional information about how a person naturally behaves and acts is your Receptionist.  In my experience, the Receptionist usually observed three things. One, nothing out of the ordinary. Two, a nervous, but pleasant person… a person who was very nice and kind and who smiled at people who walked by them… a person who seemed to be a good person and authentic person with great manners. Three, a phony. The Receptionist observed, and felt first-hand, a person who was fake… indifferent… couldn’t have cared less where they were… and only smiled when the HR Pro and Hiring Manager came in to greet them.  

It’s tough evaluating people.  I was burned many times. So were many of the Receptionists I worked with over the years. The bad candidates who burn you are good at deceiving people, so don’t feel too bad. We’re not trained in FBI interviewing techniques. We try to do all the right things (evaluate resumes, ask properly constructed questions, test, and ask for references- which may include colleagues who have interacted with the person. We then take all of this information together, and make the best decision we can.

In the future, you have decision to make too in how you will treat everyone you encounter during the job application. If you learned anything from this article, it’s that whether we know it or not, our interactions, whether big or small, are felt, interpreted, and made whole by others. Do your part in making all of your behaviors and actions… one you’d teach your children to do.

If want some interviewing help, email me at writemyresume23@gmail.com.

Cheers.

Mark Karpinka

Founder of WriteMyResume.ca and AlbertaResumeWriter.ca

587-745-0823

September 21st 2018