Category Archives: Career Plan

Building my Portfolio

The Benefits of Journal Writing

I recently got called on the fact that I don’t have an online portfolio. It was a gentle slap upside the head, but a necessary one for me.

I know where my articles are posted online and I can supply links upon request. To be honest though, I’ve always been a bit shy about self-promotion.

I never really clued in though, that an online portfolio does the self-promotion work for me when I’m not there to talk. Lesson learned, I’m starting to put together a portfolio of my scattered writing across the web and I think it does a good job of representing me!

Do you have a place to showcase your work?

Resumes: Not just for Rainy Days

As part of reviewing my career plan, I looked into my resume, and I realized that I have a glaring weak spot in any career – my resume.

In my life, I’ve only met a handful of people who enjoy working on their resume. For most of us, it’s a necessary evil. Now, there are alternative schools of thought that say resumes are out of date. Seth Godin had a wonderful post on the topic, and other people echo his thoughts. I agree and disagree all at the same time. Personally, I think having your work speak for you is the best situation, and some of my favourite jobs have been won on work alone. However, resumes are still required for most job application procedures, and likely will be for the foreseeable future. So, it’s good to have one available.

Having been employed at the same place for 5 years, my resume is horribly out of date. I still enjoy the challenges of my job, so I’m not currently using my resume to search for work. However, the lack of an updated resume limits my ability to respond if something does come up.

I suppose, on some level, this is very similar to the idea of an emergency fund. An emergency fund is your savings that are set aside for emergencies (or sometimes to take advantage of opportunities). In a perfect world, you don’t need it. However, if you don’t have it prepared, you will certainly feel the pain of not having planned ahead.

A resume is similar. Even if you’re not looking for work, it still pays to update it regularly, as life is full of uncertainties. You might lose your job, or you might have the opportunity to apply for your dream job. In either instance, you immediately need an up-to-date resume, and you don’t want to spend the time making it.

This meant that, in order to really have an accurate career plan, I spent a chunk of this weekend updating my resume.

Is your resume up to date? Do you update it regularly or do you only update it when you need it?

Learning New Things: Making a Windows 8 App

As a result of attending DevTO recently, I was made aware of a company called IdeaPress.

IdeaPress is a company that helps transform WordPress blog sites into Windows 8 apps. They have an amazingly simple online conversion process, and they will even submit the app for you. All without you having to learn a line of code on your own. For people like me who exist in a technical world but who aren’t developers, this was perfect. I know what I wanted, I just had no idea how to make it happen on my own.

I was really surprised with how easy that app was to use. My only tip is to be sure to have lots of pictures ready in advance. A Windows8 app requires a lot more pictures than I had thought, so I wasn’t sufficiently prepared. The process of creating this app actually had me thinking about my own blog in different ways, which was an unanticipated, but very pleasant result!

My app can be found here. It’s not perfect, but I’m proud of the result and I learned a lot from it. If you have a WordPress blog, it might be worth considering making a Windows 8 app of your blog. It might not be something that appeals to the majority of your user base, but it’s so easy to do that it’s almost a shame not to!

Note: I wasn’t paid to do this review of IdeaPress. The conversion process was free from IdeaPress when I performed it for my blog.

Thought of the Day for Work: Getting out and Learning


As part of my ongoing exploration of career growth and learning more about myself, I’ve decided to try and get out and learn more after work.

Frankly, it amazes me all of the talks and learning opportunities that are offered after 5pm in Toronto. Yesterday, I had the chance to attend DevTO, an organization for Toronto developers and people working with (or interested in) technology.

It was a free event, and they gave out food, so I didn’t even need to buy dinner. The net cost was only a few hours of my time, but the benefits were incredible. I got to listen to two talks from interesting people in the field of technology trends and open information, and I had the opportunity to meet a number of other fascinating people and enjoy some great conversations.

DevTO puts presentations up online as well, so you can learn even if you can’t make it to an event.

So, my first time time to DevTO was a success. I’ll definitely be going again. Do you attend any events after work where you live?

The Magic of Enjoying Your Work

I had to fly to Washington DC for a conference this week. Aside from the fantastic weather and the amazing cherry blossoms, there was something else that made my trip.

I met a gate unit manager named Quinn, who worked for US Airways at DC International airport.

There was a crazy storm front going from the US to Canada, delaying flights all over and leading to a lot of tired and frustrated passengers. So, with our flight facing a potential delay from a need for a crew shift, we could have easily joined the delay situation if not for the quick work of Quinn.

He took the initiative to check luggage that wouldn’t easily fit on the plane, and did it while cracking jokes and keeping everyone entertained. His jokes led to everyone giving up their luggage without a fight, and saved us time in loading and kept everyone moving on time.

Quinn obviously enjoyed his work. Either as a result of this enjoyment, or as a byproduct of it, he was VERY good at it. And, as a result of him enjoying his work, the rest of us really enjoyed our flight experience. He was able to make an entire plane load of people happy, and I’m certain that those people went and did nicer things with the rest of their days as a result of it. His actions created a ripple effect.

So, the magic of enjoying your work let him have an amazing impact for just doing his job. He could have done his job without being pro-active or entertaining. It would have cost him nothing to not overperform, but by doing so he made magic happen.

What could you do if you really loved the work you did?

Networking is as simple as getting out there

I know a number of people who have an issue with the concept of networking.

I won’t lie, I’m sometimes one of them.

Connecting with people over social media can take a lot of the sting out of networking, but I don’t think it ever really substitutes for interacting with people. To be honest, since I’ve started getting out and about for more in-person interaction in my field, I’ve had more happening in the last 6 months than I’ve had in the year previously with just social media.

Not to sell social media short. I know a number of people who have accomplished amazing things with social media. I just think that adding the element of personal interaction helps anchor the relationship you build and gives them a foundation to grow further. Let’s face it, we’ve interacted in person for thousands of years, we’re not going to move to a completely online species overnight.

So, I think I’ll continue with this strategy of getting out and about. Don’t get me wrong, it can also be a pain. It means more late nights and longer days, but the end result seems to be a richer and more exciting life!

Career Planning: Getting More Certifications

As part of developing my career plan, I’ve been monitoring job ads for different skills and certifications that are in demand, and seeing what I can do to learn these skills if I don’t have them.

One challenge I face as a person working in digital marketing is the Google AdWords Certification. The Individual Google Adwords Certification Exam costs you $50 US, and all the studying information you could want is available online.

If $50 is a bit pricey for you right now, you can get Bing Ads Certification for free.

Given the cheap costs attached to getting these certifications, I think I might just get both of them!

If you don’t work in the marketing field, but you’re considering it, these are cheap and easy ways to add a few more lines on your resume that might catch the interest of the hiring person at your next job.

Careers, money, and happiness: Running Towards Temptation

I think one of the biggest challenges when you’re planning out your career path is temptation.

Now, I freely admit, I search for temptation sometimes like Sherlock Holmes looking for a clue. When it comes to careers, I subscribe to the philosophy that staying up-to-date on job postings in your industry is just as important as reading industry publications. It keeps you current on what the value of your skills are, and it lets you know when other skills are becoming in demand for your level. Also, it lets you see when the tide of an industry is turning. In the modern world, more than a few jobs have been supplanted by technology. If you don’t see any demand for people with your skill set, you should probably ask some questions.

However, while this is a great way to keep current in your industry, it also exposes you to some serious temptation. If you have a bad day, it can seem VERY simple to put in an application for a new job.

Well, while changing careers is fairly common these days, don’t do it out of haste.

The key to a career plan is the planning part. Reacting to a single bad day, or even a bad week, is more of a twitch than a plan. There will be times when you are in a bad place, or when you have a better opportunity elsewhere. In those situations, if it merits it, make your move.

This is where a career plan is the biggest help, because it gives you a target to move towards, each individual career choice moving you further towards your goal!

Money and Happiness: What is Personal Branding?

I’ll be honest, I’ve always been a bit puzzled by all the talk in the last few years about personal branding. I like to think I’m not stupid, but it just wasn’t clicking in my head as a concept.

Then, just recently, it finally fell into place thanks to a book I’m reading (which I’ll talk about a bit later, as I’m not that far in yet). In essence, your personal brand is what you want to be known for. So, I feel a bit silly, as it’s like your professional reputation, but just a bit more all-encompassing. A personal brand is what people think you do (or are capable of doing). For example, a friend who’s good with computers who everyone goes to with their computer challenges.

This struck me when I looked back at my interview with Connie about planning to hit your career goals. Connie is living her plan to become the Creative Director of a fashion brand so clearly that I was aware of that goal within moments of meeting her. That’s an incredibly clear personal brand. There are many aspects of Connie’s life I don’t know, but I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if that branding was consistent throughout her life.

However, there’s a challenge when it comes to personal branding. How do you build a clear brand saying what you want to be when you’re not completely certain of that yourself? The question was brought up incredibly well in a post on Vanessa’s Money called Developing my parcel of land. Vanessa brought it as discussion of her career, but the same principle applies, as for most of us, your personal brand and your career are directly linked.

It was on the commute home that I came to somewhat of a solution. I think you need to just start by filling in the skills and abilities you are confident and comfortable having. For example: dependability. Having a reputation as a dependable and reliable person is never a bad thing in the professional world, and that’s a reputation you need to defend and maintain in all parts of your life – personal AND professional. Also, there are all sorts of skills that aren’t limited to a particular career: speaking other languages, computer proficiency, ability to write well, a strong professional network, etc. These are all skills that can help develop any career or personal brand, but they don’t limit you to a single one.

So, I’ll need to work more on defining my career plan to fully develop the idea of the personal brand I want to have. However, in the meantime (and to steal part of Vanessa’s analogy) I will build a multi-purpose foundation. I will develop my leadership and my technical skills, as well as reading as much as I can to learn a lot more about everything! It’s not exactly a master-plan yet, but it’s at least the first few steps of one, and that’s a start.

Money and Happiness: Planning to hit your Career Goals

In the last few months, I’ve fallen in love with twitterchats. I’ve dabbled with them in the past, but recently I embraced them again.

Recently, my favourite chat has been #rbchat, which is a chat for relationship building. It was during this chat that had the chance to meet Connie A. VonLeitner (@ConnieImage on Twitter). She has the goal of becoming the Creative Director for a fashion brand.

Given that I’m trying to decide where to go with my career, I thought it would be fascinating to speak to someone who has both a goal and a career plan in place. Connie was nice enough to answer a few questions for me to help me in my journey, and I wanted to share her answers with you:

1. How long have you know that you wanted to be a Creative Director for Fashion Brand?

I would way I’ve wanted to become a “Creative Director” for a Fashion Brand for several years now.

2. Do you currently work in the fashion industry, or are you jumping industries to make this change?

No, I don’t currently work in the “Fashion Industry”, (but) I’m definitely wanting to make a career change from being in the Entertainment Industry to directing the Fashion World.

3. If everything works out, how quickly will you be reaching the position of Creative Director in your plan?

If everything works out as planned, I would love to land a position no later than late this year!

4. How much experience with fashion did you have before you started your plan?

Let me just say that my “Experience” started in my early teens! I worked w/ a seamstress in designing my own clothes. One of a kind dresses & pieces. I collaborated in choosing all fabrics, materials & designs. I have incredible detail when it comes to textures, fabrics, quality, design & style. I also owned my own “Image Consulting Business” back in 2007 to 2010! Image Stylist For companies & individual clients in the professional world. From wardrobe selection to private shopping.

Thanks to Connie for sharing! I’m a bit envious of her passion and confidence in direction, but I’m happy for her and I wish her the best of luck! If you have the opportunity to help her on her path and want to speak to her, you can find her on twitter as @ConnieImage.

Connie is a great example of how you don’t need to work in your dream field to make the jump into what you want to do with the rest of your life. Let her be an inspiration for all of us who are searching for our dream career path!