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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Are you really ready for a job search

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                              EMPLOYMENT READINESS QUIZ


1.     I have identified and/or chosen a TARGET job or a few target industries that interest me.
2.      I know what motivated me in past jobs (i.e. skills I was using; tasks that energized me; customers and coworkers, etc). to identify patterns that will help me in the future.
3.      I have identified my top 5 skills, strengths, values and interests that will uncover ideal job opportunities.
4.      I have developed a personal brand that features my USP (unique selling points) and ROI (potential return on investment to employers).
5.      I have identified numerous job search strategies and minimized my online job search to 1 hour daily or 20% of my job search activities.
6.      My work history has helped me to decide how I am a fit for an employer, industry or organization, after reviewing my successes in past jobs.
7.      I understand what kind of “corporate culture” is the best for me (public, non-government; big, medium or small sized businesses; slow, medium or fast pace; variety or routine; regular or occasional direct feedback from boss/supervisors; products and services are acceptable).
8.      I know what my criteria are for deciding to accept a job offer.  (SWOT analysis: strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats or uncontrollables).
9.      I have developed an employment plan, which includes daily action steps to achieve my goals.
1     I have identified a “bucket list” of at least 10 desirable employers or industries.
1    I have identified a plan B in case my preferred employers or industries are not hiring right away (i.e. make a the sacrifice of accepting a “bridge job” that will lead me to my eventual job goal). This means taking risks.

1.       BEFORE creating a tailored resume, I have researched the company web site, created Google news alerts for companies I wish to work for and used 3rd party sites such as  to view former employees’ opinions about working for a specific company.
2.       I have a resume that includes at least 70% accomplishments and achievements and does NOT read like a job description or “laundry list” of what I have done in the past.

1.       I have identified possible interview questions (i.e. behavioural)
2.       I have identified mini-stories and STAR’s (situations, tasks, actions and results I took in pervious jobs or training) to mention in my interview.
3.       I have identified questions that I wish to ask interviewees.

1.       I have pledged to tap into my internal network (primary, secondary and tertiary) to practise the “six degrees of separation” and gather contacts and job leads.
2.       I have sent networking letters and emails to my network of contacts, asking them to connect me to other potential leads and contacts in my desired field.
3.       I have created at least 1 social media/networking account (i.e. Twitter, Linkedin, Ning, etc) so that recruiters and hiring managers can find me online.
4.       Using social media, I have networked with “people of influence” such as subject matter experts (i.e. recruiters, reputable people in my desired field, etc) to help me move forward with my job search.
5.       I have developed a 60 second “elevator” pitch that tells other people what my USP (unique selling points) are, so I can accumulate contacts and get a job FASTER.

Are your READY? Contact me on how your job search is going. Email me at

Melissa C. Martin

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

How mantras can help your job search

I subscribe to an international fitness and wellness magazine and came across an article about using mantras. Recently, I offered a life coaching session to a client, as a welcome break to career coaching and thought of the link from the fitness magazine. This client wanted to revitalize her motivation and return to the gym.

It struck me.

With virtually ANY change that we want to make, we need to rev up our intrinsic (inner motivation). The comparison with using mantras for fitness and job searching are so transferable!  The next time your job search hits a wall, tap into some mantras to get your inner mojo working

The secret to going faster, stronger, and longer: fitness mantras. To create yours, think of the three p's: personal, positive, and powerful. Your mantra should be something that stirs you into action when things feel tough, so it should hit on the deeper reason you're exercising, says Jeff Halevy, a behavioral health and fitness expert and the star of Veria Living's Workout from Within with Jeff Halevy. Need inspiration?
WHEN: You've had no results in your job search for the past month (no interviews, no calll backs, etc) and feel like giving up. l
THINK: This past month has been tough, but I know it is only temporary. 
Yes TEMPORARY. The psychologist/professor who certiified me in solution-focused counselling and coaching always said, "No problem is 24/7 except for chronic pain." 
Takeway: tell your mind's eye that the setbacks, disappointments and dismal results are just temporary roadblocks, so change the course in your mind!
WHEN: Your to-do list has you tempted to abandon a multi-tiered job search. 
Takeway: the excuses are winning and your resolve is waning. Recharge and revamp your job search by drastically reducing your online job search, in favour of identifying at least TWO activities that you have never done in your job search before (create a social media profile on Linkedin; writing a job proposal; sending a "worknetting" letter to reach out to your contacts; taking a free or online course to upgrade your education).
THINK: Setting SMART goals will allow me to retrieve my physical and mental energy, necessary for a proactive job search. 
WHEN: You are losing physical energy and no one is calling you for an interview.
THINK: I am powerful, I am unstoppable. Tomorrow, I will devote my energy effectively and aim at concrete results that I can track by the end of the week.
WHEN: You say there's no way you’re going to look for work today.
THINK: 30 minutes of effort, lifelong rewards

WHEN: You feel defeated that your job search is taking longer than you anticipated.
Takeway: the average job search in the U.S. is 33 weeks; it's slightly shorter in Canada.
THINK: Strong, focused, determined

Does your intrinsic motivation need a tune-up? Start creating powerful mantras that you can internalize and apply to your goal and action plan.

email me your mantras
Follow me on Twitter: @ravingredhead and @melissacmartin

Monday, May 19, 2014

Guest post: Resume errors are costly say senior managers

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Hello job seekers,
The following guest post is yet another example of being vigilant about proofreading your resume. 
The article is written by Accountemps, the parent company of Robert Half. 

"In today’s employment market, job seekers have to be ultra-vigilant when it comes to preparing their resume: 56 per cent of senior managers interviewed for an Accountemps survey said one or two typos in a resume would remove applicants from consideration for a job. The results show that despite the times, employers’ tolerance of errors hasn’t changed much in the past five to eight years.

Full survey results and an infographic can be found here:

Survey: Majority of Managers Pass on Job Candidates for One or Two Resume Mistakes
 Even in an era of typo-ridden texts and tweets, making a goof on your resume can still prove costly, according to a recent survey by AccountempsFifty-six per cent of Canadian senior managers said just one or two resume typos would eliminate an applicant from consideration for a job. The results show that despite the times, employers' tolerance of errors hasn't changed much in the past five to eight years: 25 per cent said a single snafu would land a resume in the "no" pile now, compared to 23 per cent in 2009 and 27 per cent in 2006.
The survey was developed by Accountemps, the world's first and largest specialized staffing service for temporary accounting, finance and bookkeeping professionals, and conducted by an independent research firm. It includes responses from more than 300 Canadian senior managers.
Senior managers were asked, "How many typos in a resume does it take for you to decide not to consider a job candidate for a position with your company?" Their responses:
Four or more16%19%15%
Don't know/no answer     6%     8%    8%
"Job seekers should draw a clear line between professional writing for the job application process and the text message or social media shorthand of today's communication methods," said Dianne Hunnam-Jones, Canadian district president of Accountemps. "Attention to detail is as important as ever when it comes to crafting, proofreading and submitting resumes to prospective employers, regardless of the method by which they are being submitted."
Hunnam-Jones added, "A level of care and precision is required for most jobs and failing to demonstrate that skill on a resume can impact the chances of landing a job."
The following real-life resume blunders collected by Robert Half, parent company of Accountemps, serve as cautionary tales of what not to do when applying for a job. These are actual excerpts from job application materials:
  • "My last employer fried me for no reason."
  • "I am graduating this Maybe."
  • "I am looking for my big brake."
  • "Referees available upon request."
  • "My talent will be very a parent when you see me work."
  • "Objective: To secure a challenging position and accell in the accounting industry."
  • "My three biggest hobbies are cars, racquetball, golf, and reading."
  • "Work experience: academic tudor."
  • "Earned a diploma from a very repudiated college."
  • "Looking for a bass salary of $40,000."
Find more amusing resume mistakes on Robert Half's Resumania blog.

About Accountemps
Accountemps, a Robert Half company, is the world's first and largest specialized staffing service for temporary accounting, finance and bookkeeping professionals. The staffing firm has 340 locations worldwide. Follow Accountemps at or visit the Accountemps blog for workplace new

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

For veterans entering the civilian workforce

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Greetings everyone,
I am still updating  my new web site,

In the meantime, here is a guest post from Dr. Harry Croft

The unemployment rate among military servicemen and women in the civilian workforce is much greater than for their non-veteran counterparts.  As troops from Afghanistan start returning home, what do these veterans as well as employers need to know? 

Harry Croft M.D., a former Army doctor and a psychiatrist who has evaluated more than 7,000 veterans for PTSD, and is author of the book I Always Sit With My Back to The Wall, offers this advice:

For Veterans
-       Recognize what your skill sets are.  Your military training proves you’re able to learn, work in groups, accomplish a mission, be a strong leader and be dedicated to what you do.    

-       Understand the differences between the military community (your former job) and the civilian community (job you’re going into).  The military recognizes you by your rank, time-in-grade and job description.  The civilian community is different: people dress alike, socialize with co-workers, and things are looser and not always by the book. 

-       If you suffer from PTSD, learn everything you can about it and better understand why you do what you do.  It’s important to know what your symptoms are, what triggers them and how to cope.  Without the knowledge, you’re likely to get in trouble and be misunderstood.

-       You’ve received the best leadership training in the world, but understanding and being able to explain how that translates to the civilian workforce is the key in your resume or during an interview.

-       Get yourself a support system.  It can be on the web, a mentor, coach, or group of local veterans who are also returning to the workforce. 

For Employers
-       Understand the veteran, his or her skill sets and the differences in military and civilian culture.  Hire veterans in pairs or groups because they’re used to working that way. 

-       Learn about PTSD so if you hire a veteran dealing with it, you know what the symptoms really are.  This will help you understand that the vet is not trying to be disrespectful or obstinate and will help you understand the reasons they sometimes behave the way they do. 

-       Don’t give into the myths, mystique and stigma about veterans with PTSD.  Never will someone with PTSD behave like Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, the soldier accused of killing 16 Afghanistan civilians.  He was suffering from much more than just PTSD alone. 

-       Offer veterans you hire someone to talk to in confidence or a situation or way that might enable them to deal with their symptoms more effectively.

-       Ask yourself why you want to hire a veteran?  It shouldn’t be because it’s a tax break, the patriotic thing to do, good for business or because you feel sorry for them.  They don’t want to be treated like charity, but given opportunities because they are the right person for the job.

Croft says if both sides understand where the other is coming from, veterans can make for some of the best employees in an organization.

Please consider an interview with Dr. Croft to talk about veterans and the workplace.

Banish the 'P word" in interviews

I'm approaching 15 years in employment assistant services and have served on interview panels in military and civilian environments. Yet I still hear the same refrain when an interview asks the job candidate how to describe him or herself. The P word emerges....perfectionist. Cringggggge!

For your next interview, here's a short lesson:
Perfectionism is an  absolute term. It is a figment of one's imagination. The P word also denotes rigidity and lack of compromise. Instead, opt for a replacement, such as excellence. Can you see where I'm going with this point? Excellence is flexible and negotiable, two valuable traits that you already want to present in an interview. Procrastination hinders progress and progress, (in other words, change, which in my field often means returning to work). Excellence, on the other hand, rewards change.

Have you ever uttered the P word in an interview? Now, you'll think twice before choosing that word which is often dismissed straight away by interviewers.

Get my FREE 32 page report, "16+ sizzling tips to be irresistible to employers" on

Melissa C. Martin
bilingual career/social media strategist
Approved career expert on

T: @ravingredhead and @melissacmartin

Friday, April 18, 2014

Sell your deployment skills to employers, BRAG

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If  have you have been in the military for at least seven years, chances are that you may  have had a  deployment overseas. Is that true in your case? 

It can be tricky to communicate to employers the "value" of your  deployment to civilian employers. In the grand scheme of things, deployment can turn into an asset if you're competing against job-hungry candidates in the civilian workforce. Apart from the military or those who in a career devoted to social service, the majority of the population would resist the feat of being sent to a foreign country and facing potential combat action? (Here's where you could use a deployment experience as a strong response to a conflict management question in an interview!)   I have a simple acronym to help you, known as BRAG.

B stands for "barriers you overcame."
While in theatre (the centre of action), you likely overcame seemingly endless barriers such as the opposing faction, lack of resources (physical and human), danger, communication in a foreign country, fatigue affecting the ability to problem solve and make decisions, etc.

All of the above barriers can be highlighted in an interview to set you apart.

R  refers to "results you generated."
In your military career, think about how you made an impact. Examples may include how you provided leadership in deeply troubling circumstances, under highly stressful conditions or how you improved communications and relations with the local population.

A signifies achievements.
Take the time to think about your career milestones over the last few years. Would roles did you take? Were you promoted to a higher rank? Invest some time in figuring out what precise achievements led to your promotion.

G refers to groups you directed or supported.
Teamwork is the hallmark of military service. Platoons, companies and units all convey the notion of getting the job done via a teamwork framework. Currently, many civilian positions involve some level of teamwork that supports a company's mission statement and strategic planning.

The takeaway? Whether you are still active in the military or about to transition to the civilian workforce, use the BRAG acronym to your advantage.

Need a professional to provide you with interview coaching?  You can email me at or head to

Melissa Martin
bilingual career/military to civilian transition coach
T: @ravingredhead and @melissacmartin

Monday, March 31, 2014

Study: Job seekers fooled about position during interview

Hello job seekers,
Here is a guest post from Robert Half : 

Tomorrow is April Fool’s Day which means many of us will be on high alert to not fall for the pranks played by friends, family and even coworkers!  According to a new survey by Robert Half, job seekers should also be on guard when it comes to believing what a hiring manager says about a position during an interview. Forty-three per cent of workers surveyed said the role they accepted at a company was different than what had been outlined to them during the interview process. 

There may be a difference of opinion between millennials and their more tenured colleagues – 55% of workers aged 18-34 said they’ve had a job that was not what they expected, while only 34% of workers aged 55-64 felt they’ve been led astray by a new position.

Of those who were fooled, job duties (74%*) topped the list, which also included corporate culture (44%*) and job hours (32%*) as reasons why they felt the joke was on them! (*multiple answers were allowed)

A local expert from Robert Half can discuss how job expectations differ across the generations and offer some of the following tips to job seekers who don’t want to take any chances at accepting a job and then finding out it is not what they expected:

·         Research the company in advance of the interview.  Knowledge is power.
·         Ask questions to reveal the story behind why the role is being filled – is it because someone left the company or got promoted?
·         If the opportunity presents itself, take time to talk to your future coworkers.  They will have the inside scoop.

Need one-to-one interview coaching? Contact me at or on my site,

Melissa Martin
Bilingual career/military to civilian transition specialist

T: @ravingredhead and @melissacmartin (bilingual)

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Monday, February 24, 2014

How to create a military to civilian employment timeline

images (1)

In my previous seminars at two military bases, the general, collective wisdom is to embark on a P& P (planning and preparation), roughly 18 months before your departure from military service.
Take the time to compile a checklist, to expedite your transition strategically from military service to “civvie street.” The 18 month timeline allows for identifying any barriers to employment, or uncovers gaps in your educational background (it’s possible that you may have to upgrade your education before your transition date).
18 months prior to your departure date
Start to gain clarity about what you want to do (NOT what you can do) in your upcoming civilian career. It’s important to choose 3 skills that you want to use.
Do some career self-assessments with the help of a career professional. The essential points are:
Your interests
Your passions
Your work style and personality
Your transferable skills
Your motivators
Your intuition (one of the best indicators of career success). What is your intuition telling you to do? Similar job that you did in the military (it is highly unlikely that it will be the same). Different job? Similar industry, field or occupation?
Unless you devote ample time to knowing yourself through self-assessments, you will likely be unsuccessful in career planning. Self-awareness is the first step; don’t overlook it.
Take a personal inventory
Record your milestones and accomplishments in the military. Refer back to performance evaluations (PER’s in Canada) and look for any patterns in key words that led to your successes.
• Start career goal setting and action planning
• Subscribe to career and job search blogs. The nature of the 21st century has changed exponentially, especially in the last decade with the proliferation of social media and a shaky economy impacting the growth of jobs. My blog is http://
The current civilian workforce is the most competitive ever! Soak up all the information you can about the current civilian workforce. 
6 – 4 months prior to your departure date from military service

• Seek out recruiters, headhunters and employment counsellors to help your planning and goal setting, on and off line. You can find recruiters, headhunters and hiring managers on Twitter and Linkedin. Start to follow a number of these individuals. As for employment counsellors, they generally work at MFRC’s (military family centres in Canada) and Fleet and Family Support Centers, Army ACAP, and Airman & Family Readiness Centers in the U.S.
In the U.S., reputable recruiters include Lucas Group, Orion International and Bradley-Morris.
Equally helpful is to get a mentor, who has already made a successful transition into the private or government sector. Mentors offer the unique advantage of imparting invaluable information, such as familiarizing with “civilian/corporate culture.” The difference between civilian work culture is vastly different from the military equivalent. As a transitioning military member, it is in your best interest to become familiar with the “new” culture you are entering (more on that later, especially in relation to civilian job interviews).
4 months prior to your separation date
Seek out a certified career coach to act as an accountability partner and help you achieve your short-term and long-term goals. Research has proven that hiring a career coach for a set period of time will result in landing a satisfying job or career faster, than the usual route of “going it alone” in a job search
With the rise of accessibility to social media sites, look for webinars and teleseminars which you can view in the comfort of your home.
In the same vein, invest in professional development by taking classes and courses online. Some are free, low cost and are university courses. I recommend online courses on or The course subjects are limitless, and can only benefit you by showing potential employers that you understand the current trends, expectations and issues that affect the civilian workforce. There is also MOOC, which stands for “ massive open online course.”
As we speak, I am taking a brilliant coaching course on, delivered by a highly successful coach in the U.S.
3 months before departure date
Start removing your military uniform “mentally.”
By this I mean, come to terms with the fact that you are either making a choice to enter the civilian workforce or you are releasing from the military for medical reasons. Leaving the military is likely to affect you from psychologically, from the standpoint that it has been your identity for 20-30 years. In North America, identity is closely aligned to one’s occupation, so creating a “new” professional identity needs to be considered.
Attend workshops to “demilitarize” your military resume. Don’t shoot the messenger here! While working at 2 military bases, I developed a “how to de-militarize your resume workshop.” Nothing exited before I spent months preparing resources to develop such a workshop, which led to dozens of military members requesting individual appointments to create an appealing and powerful civilian resume.
It is imperative that you create a resume that a civilian employer can understand. All too frequently, civilian employers do not understand buzzwords, acronyms or abbreviations that are specific to the military. In the worst case scenario, well qualified military applicants are passed over because their military resume contains y jargon that  is too complex for civilian employers to understand.
Attend a workshop and work with a career professional one-on-one to highlight your unique selling points (USP, speaking of acronyms!). Consider at least two resume formats for attracting civilian employers.
If you are unclear about what job titles represent what would did in the military, check out (US) or to find equivalent job titles.
• Likewise, attend as many career transition workshops as you can, while you are still on base. The most popular ones I delivered were:
 Emotional intelligence
 How to use social media in your job search
 SurvivAbility (TM): career strategies for the world of work
 Interview preparation
Start preparing for civilian interviews
Clearly, the 20-30 minute military interview is diametrically opposed to the format that civilian employers use. Be prepared for the “behavioural interviewing” format, whereby employers ask questions related to the past that may help them decide what your present or future performance may be. Practise your answers with a career coach or career professional at your local military centre and inquire about interviewing strategies that will set you apart from your competition.
Research potential employers by checking Google News, setting up Google alerts about desirable companies and using Linkedin to network and get introduced to current AND past company employees. Find out what the competing company does (known as “competitive intelligence”) and glean that valuable information during your civilian interview.
Melissa C. Martin is a bilingual career/military to civilian career coach and military spouse.
For almost 10 years, I worked as an employment counsellor and seminar leader at 2 military bases. In the last 4 years, I have specialized in mental health as a vocational rehabilitation counsellor. Recently, I started my own business,
Presently, I offer on-on-one career coaching. (Coming soon, group coaching and webinars!)

Check out my blog at
Follow me on Twitter @ravingredhead and @melissacmartin
Need a certified career professional to help you achieve your career goals?
Email me at

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Wednesday, February 5, 2014

What is the best advice to share with someone on a first job interview

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Recently, I had a conversation with a job seeker, Susan, via Klout.

If you're not familiar with Klout, take a look at my profile.

It's another way to promote your brand, be recognizable and be seen as an SME (subject matter expert).

I helped Susan with suggesting interview technniques.

1.  Q A Q   interview technique

Instead of the usual "Spanish inquisition" method of attending an interview and responding to questions and then answering, I suggest the Q A Q method. What are the benefits:
-it helps build a CONVERSATION
-puts you back in control while interviewing
-demonstrates confidence to the interviewer that you can build a dialogue in the stressful situation where you must "think on your feet." See more below.

  • What is the best advice can share with someone on a first job interview?

  • Thank you Melissa Cynthia for your succinct reply and GREAT advice. I've never heard of the Q answer Q technique and though I think I know what you mean, I will go look that up later tonight! Again, amazingly good points that you raised and I had forgotten about STAR as a way of dealing with behavioral interview approaches which is where I feel a certain weakness or rather insecurity. How'd you know that? Someone else reminded me of the fact that I'm going to interview to gather information as well so I am going in fully armed on Friday. ��Gratefully leaving you with much appreciation in my ❤️now , signed --Susan 

  • Soo glad to help you and instead of wishing you "good luck," I will use what my military husband says,"Go in and win!" on Friday! If you cannot think of a STAR, there is also PULL, which stands for personal experience, unpaid and paid experience (volunteering), life experience and learning.
  • 0/14/2014 at 6:35pm
    Please let me how your interview turns out.

  • I promise to do so. Thanks for PULL tip. I have volunteered quite a bit in the past and it could help me in my responses. You're an especially nice lady. Thank you for being a mil spouse and please say thank you to your significant other for his service to our country. Blessings!
  • 0/24/2014 at 10:46am
    I made the short list and have another interview Tuesday 1/28. May need to make some kind of presentation. Sort of nerve wracking but I've taken public speaking courses in the past and recently joined Toastmasters so I'm hoping this will give me an edge over the other two candidates. Thanks again for your initial advice. It helped to alleviate my anxieties.
  • 0/24/2014 at 7:15pm
    Sooo glad Susan that you have gone to the second round.  I would love to help you beforehand-perhaps via SKYPE. Please consider my offer! If not, here's what I recommend:
  •  prepare your slides with the them, 30/60/90. In other words, present what you would do in the first 30 days, 60 days and 90 days (with suppositional language that you will be hired!) Hope this helps Susan! Cheers, Melissa PS May I post your kind words (essentially your testimonial in your last email ) on my web site?
  • ."
  • 0/26/2014 at 9:09am
    Yes you may post my thanks and good luck with the new business venture, I'm sure you will be very successful because it's obvious to me that you are passionate about career and other types of coaching. 

  • 0/27/2014 at 8:28pm
    Good evening Melissa, I found out today that the first part of tomorrow's interview involves some kind of test but wasn't given further details so I spent the day reviewing PowerPoint and Excel. I truly appreciate your support. Thank you so very much. Susan