How I Successfully Pretended to Run a Business for the Last 18 Months

It’s time to get something off my chest. For the past year and a half, I’ve been pretending to run a business. What I do isn’t running a business. I’ve created an avenue for self employment. It’s not scalable, and therefore in my eyes… not a business. I would love to transform this into a business, and here’s how I’m going to do it!

How I Make $1,000 per Month Riding the Subway

Me on the first day the subway came all the way to my work! Sorry for the dramatic Insta-filter ;)

Me on the first day the subway came all the way to my work! Sorry for the dramatic Insta-filter ;)

Hi, my name is Greg Langstaff and I make a little over a $1,000 every month riding the subway. Am I really good at riding the subway? After all these years, I’d like to think so. But no, I’m not just getting paid for sitting here looking pretty (notice I said “here” because I’m writing this on the subway). 

As many of you know, in January of 2018, I launched my resume writing and interview coaching business. And if you’ve been following closely, you’ll know that over the first little while, I had some ups and downs, including earning $820 in my second month and then $0 in my third.

After nearly a year of experimenting with various marketing and promotional tactics including organic Facebook content, word-of-mouth, paid Google and Facebook Ads, and registering with the Career Professionals of Canada, I started to experience a reliable flow of candidates that would earn me anywhere from $1,000 to $1,400 per month. 


Lots of Clients… Not a lot of Time

The challenging part was, when would I write all those resumes and cover letters? I still have  an 8:30am to 4:30pm job and I also live with my girlfriend, Ariana, who I like to spend time with in the evenings, so I can’t just work into the night. I also try to hit the gym 3-4 times a week and I don’t miss a Raptors game if I can help it. Also, friends. They take up time too!

It takes me anywhere from 1.5 to 4 hours to write a resume (depending on my familiarity with the industry and how useful my phone call with the client was). Cover letters take another 45 minutes or so and then an additional chunk of time for the LinkedIn makeover. I’ve been working with 5-7 clients per month so as you can tell, the time adds up. 

So not wanting to give up any aspect of my life, or cut back on clients (and income), I scoured my schedule in search of a time when I could get this writing done. I tried waking up at 6:00am to start writing, but after even two days that turned me into a zombie. I tried doing work at home on the weekends, but that just made me sad. I tried working on lunch breaks at work and that had some success but it just wasn’t quite enough time. 


Then… a Miracle 

I tried writing during my commute. Every morning I walk 8 minutes to the subway station in downtown Toronto, sit down for 40 minutes and arrive just steps from my office. The subway is fairly empty because I’m leaving downtown when most people are coming in, so there is always a seat. 

Right there, I found 1 hour and 20 minutes per day (nearly 7 hours per week) for writing. That’s more than enough to get through 1.5, even two clients a week without even touching my social life. Between that time and the odd lunch break here and there, I’ve managed to almost completely avoid letting writing interfere with my home or social life. 


Building the Habit

Writing first thing in the morning or after a tough day of work wasn’t easy at first. I’m somewhat of a morning person but after work, my brain often feels like mashed potatoes. 

However, I’m a big believer in habit forming. I have read The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg twice (weird brag, I know), and using the tactics in his book, I was able to completely take the willpower out of writing on the subway. There is literally no decision making process at all. 


When I get on subway. 

  1. Sit down.

  2. Turn off music/podcast. 

  3. Open laptop. 

  4. Start typing. 

When I arrive at my station: 

  1. Hit save. 

  2. Close laptop. 

  3. Exit train 

*(oh damn, as I was writing that line, I literally arrived at my stop and had to exit the train. Now I’m continuing to write this a couple days later. Welcome to this meta/behind the scenes tangent. Okay back to what I was saying). 


What Makes a Habit Stick

According to Duhigg, there are four essential elements to building a successful habit. Here are mine. 

The Cue: A recurring event that triggers the desired behaviour (e.g. waking up is the cue for brushing your teeth). My cue is getting into the subway.

The Behaviour: The thing you want to do. For me, this is writing resumes or blog posts or whatever is on tap. 

The Reward: This is the reason for doing what we do. For brushing your teeth, it’s a clean mouth and a nice smile. For me, it’s clearing out my to-do list and having a free schedule. 

An Internal Driver: It’s the subconscious driver that motivates us to continue with the habit. The internal driver for brushing your teeth is that satisfying tingly feeling you get after you’re done. For me writing in the subway, it’s relief from the fear of people yelling at me for not delivering their documents on time (if you’ve read my “How I Paid off $12,000 of Debt in Six Months while Enjoying Guilt-Free Spending” blog, you know the fear of being yelled at has always been a great motivator for me). 

Final Thought

Life’s good! I had a problem and I solved it! Onto the next one :)

If you know anyone who’s struggling to form a good habit or make a lasting change (or find a time to write), send them this blog. I’d really appreciate it and hopefully they will too!



How I Paid off $12,000 of Debt in 6 Months While Enjoying Guilt-Free Spending

Greg+on+the+water.jpg

On a chilly December morning in 2016, on the cusp of turning 29-years-old, I woke up with a panicked realization that I was about to become a full-on adult and I knew absolutely nothing about money. 

I had a Bachelor of Arts in Professional Writing, and a Master of Science in College Student Affairs, and despite being fairly well educated, my financial education was pitiful. My parents never talked about money, they never shared how much they made or how they budgeted, and the subject seems taboo around most friends so I was very much in the dark. 

To cope with this lack of information, I had developed a fool-proof plan for my financially ignorant self. I called it, “Spend as little as possible so I don’t run out of money to buy food and die of starvation”. Though physiologically safe, this plan did not provide a lot in the way of an enjoyable lifestyle.


How I Got into Debt

Finishing grad school in July of 2014, I owed my bank and the government a combined total of $45,000. I was unemployed for about 5 months because I desperately wanted to stay in the U.S. but, as a Canadian, that meant I needed to find a university that was willing to hire an entry-level administrator on a work visa that they were saving for distinguished international research professors. My determination to prove I was worth the investment had me basically living in my University Career Center (which eventually sparked my interest in starting my resume writing business, so in hindsight, I can’t complain about that).  


A Brief Look at My Dark Days

Because I was unable to find a job in the U.S. but I was too stubborn to move back to Canada, times got tough. My girlfriend of the time was paying for most of our expenses and my dad had to wire me money a couple times, though he refused to call it a loan because he didn’t want to burden either of us with any pressure for me to pay him back (really sweet, but also an example of how money wasn’t a subject we wanted to hover on for too long). 

Without a clear sense of direction or any kind of financial stability, I essentially melted into a shell of my former self. I lacked my normal confidence and I lost my drive to do much of anything aside from play NBA 2K14. It was a whole ordeal and I plan to blog about that in more detail in the near future, but for now, let me just tell you, it sucked.


Okay, Happy Time Again!

In November 2014, I made the big decision to move back to Canada. Luckily for me, I had worked so hard on developing my resume writing and interviewing skills in my attempt to earn a U.S. work visa that I was immediately hired to the first job I applied to back home!

The job was at my undergraduate institution, York University, planning the new student transition programs and the salary started in the low $60K range with an annual step progression. 

The First Plan is Not Always the Best Plan

I spent the next two years paying off debt using a new financial plan I called “Spend as little as possible so I can give all my money to the bank and the government so they don’t yell at me for owing them money” plan. 

The plan worked. I was paying off about $850 per month and then whenever I had a substantial chunk of cash in my account, I’d ship it off to either the bank or the government to lower the principal on the loans. 

By December of 2016, in just 2 years of working, I had paid off $33,000, which is about $1,300 per month. I remember feeling proud that I was able to do that with only my fear-based system to drive me. 

Beware of the “Fear-Based Savings Plan”

The problem with the fear-based system is that it causes a lot of discomfort. I hadn’t been on a vacation in years. I only owned three pairs of pants. I rarely went out for dinner or even lived the luxury of buying myself blueberries. It also caused a lot of arguments with my girlfriend, which you know if you’ve experienced any money-centric agruements, is the worst. 

So, on that frosty December morning, I woke up and made a decision. I was going to learn about money and take control of my money. Here’s how I did it!

The Second Plan… The Much Better Plan

Within that month I read about 8 personal finance books and one, The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America’s Wealthy, by Thomas J. Stanley, Ph.D. and William D. Danko, Ph.D. stressed the importance of creating a personal budget to guide your spending. 

Now, I’ll admit, I’m a bit of an Excel nerd, so it didn’t take much convincing for me to build a spreadsheet to track all my monthly expenses versus my income. By doing this, I was able to not only track and adjust my spending, but I was also, for the first time in my life, able to identify money I could spend on myself, guilt-free!

I built the budget by making a row for every recurring monthly expense: food, rent, phone bill, metropass, toiletries, gym membership, haircuts, etc. Then I added categories for things I’d have to save up for monthly that I wouldn’t be buying every month like clothes (pants) and gifts (oh yeah, I was also a terrible gift giver during this era. Just ask my mom and her bag of Starbucks coffee beans).

Then, after looking at all the money I was obligated to spend each month to keep my life moving, I could see how much was left over to put into student loans. By budgeting, I was able to see that I could comfortably up my loan repayment from $1,300 per month to $1,600.



The Best Part: Guilt-Free Spending and Logical Discussions about Money

After calculating all the monthly expenses, and upping my loan repayment rate, I still had a few hundred dollars left over. So I then created a “Dating” budget line, and an “Entertainment” budget line and even a… “Vacation Fund” budget line where I started putting money aside for my first trip in years! 

Adding these pieces to my personal budget meant so much to me. It significantly reduced my financial anxiety while allowing me to spend money on myself and my loved ones without stress for the first time in my life. 

As things got more serious with my girlfriend, Ariana, it got easier to talk about spending together. Instead of saying “those cherries are too expensive”, I was able to say, “I only have $45 in the grocery budget for this weekend so if we want those cherries, we can’t have the watermelon”. I find it so much easier to talk about money with literal numbers than in the abstract. 


Paying Off the Loan

Paying off $1,600 a month from January to May allowed me to whittle down the final $12,000 pretty quickly and then in June of 2017, I submitted one final lump sum of nearly $4,000. I was done! Debt-free for the first time in 8 years with a fully paid-for education. 

It felt great!



Staying Debt-Free

I continued to use the budget for months after I paid off my loans in order to start saving for my investment portfolio and keep tabs on my spending. After a while, when I got a good handle on my expenses, I stopped keeping track and set up automation with my bank so portions of my paycheck each month would go into investment and savings accounts for things like retirement saving, personal development, and food. And I still know roughly how much I can spend each month on myself, just for fun :)

If you’re interested in budgeting your personal life, sign up for my mailing list and I’ll send you my personal budget template for free along with other similar stories and tips, and tidbits!





The Real Reason I Started a Business

Greg and John 2.jpg

Why did I start this business? Really?

This is a tough question. To be honest, I have written an opening paragraph and then deleted it four times now but that wasn’t getting me anywhere so I’m just going to try the stream-of-consciousness style of writing. Bare with me, please.

In December of 2016, as a 28-year-old man, I literally woke up one morning in a panic when I realized I knew nothing about money. I had always been frugal, but that was mainly because the extent of my financial plan was “spend as little as possible so you don’t run out of money to buy food and then die of starvation”.

Lying in bed next to my sleeping girlfriend, Ariana, I googled “Best books to learn about money” and found Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki. It was only $8.95 so I went to the mall and picked it up later that day. I read Rich Dad Poor Dad over the next three days and I can’t say I understood much (I’ve read it twice since and taken in a lot more), but it certainly got my financial blood pumping.

I read about 8 more personal finance books in the next month and also had a long talk with my most financially successful friend about savings, budgeting, and investing. After just a few weeks of vigorous, panicked financial education, I had designed a personal budget and created a master plan to pay off the last $12,000 of my student loans in 6 months on only my income as an early-career university administrator (see that story here).

Once I had the budget plan in place and got closer to sending in my final loan payment, I started to think about what I was going to do with all my extra money. I was paying off about $1,600 per month and I knew I didn’t want to just waste that money by immediately upgrading my lifestyle and taking on more expenses. I wanted to play the long game… I just didn’t know what that meant yet.

I did a deep dive into investment research, including reading The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham, a 500+ page paper brick that the internet said was for “beginners”. It went waaaayyyy over my head. In the end, I decided to open a Tax Free Savings Account, and invest my money there using fairly safe vehicles like Exchange-traded funds (ETFs).

By July 2017, after one final large lump sum payment of over $3,000 (had to tighten the belt that month), I paid off my student loans and started saving to build my investment portfolio.

The weightlessness of being debt-free was incredible! I don’t own a home or a car (and don’t plan on doing so anytime soon either, but that’s a conversation for another time), so I really had no responsibilities outside of my day job at York University.

I had no debt. I had a reliable, unionized job with good benefits and an enviable pension. I could have stopped there and been fine, but something wouldn’t let me.

You can call this a blessing or a curse, but for as long as I can remember, whenever I’ve had a moment in my life where I felt like I was “good” and I could just coast, something bad would happen to me, usually health related. Maybe that’s why I was afraid to let myself relax, for fear of getting sick again.

I know a part of it was financially driven. Maybe I wasn’t satisfied with the passive 4% to 8% growth I was going to get from my ETFs. Maybe reading about all the entrepreneurs and lifestyle designers like Chris Guillebeau and Tim Ferriss during my quest for financial literacy had me dreaming of a life of financial freedom.

Most likely, it was a combination of fear, drive, and dreaming that revved my engine and got me moving. At some point between July and September 2017, I committed to the idea of starting my own business.

It didn’t take me too long to decide that I wanted to help people find jobs through resume writing and interview coaching. During my last few months in grad school, in 2014, I practically lived in the Career Center, (I’ll explain why another time, but trust me, it’s a juicy tale) and since then, I had become the go-to resource for friends and family members who needed help during their job search.

My next questions were, would people actually be willing to pay for my help, and how could I find those people? These two questions paralyzed me into inaction for several more months, but luckily, I’m a big New Year’s Resolution guy, so on January 8th, 2018, I got my shit together and launched the damn business (forgive the cursing, I just wanted to drive that point home).

Nearly 18 months later, I’m still going hard. Whatever the initial reason was, it was good enough to get me started. What’s more important is that I know now why I still run the business. I love connecting with clients and helping people feel confident about their job searches. It’s been very rewarding to learn how to market myself, develop my reputation and as resume writer and interview coach, and find new ways to expand my business.

As long as I’m able to help people and keep challenging myself, I plan to keep this thing running!


Starting My Own Business: 10-Months In!

Greg Balloons

Dear Mom... and whoever else decides to read this blog <3

Ten months ago today, I launched Greg Langstaff - Resume Writer & Interview Coach! Believe it or not, I'm still standing :) 

Since January 8th, I have served 43 clients (plus five currently in process) and I owe a great deal of that success to all of you who supported me. Thank you to anyone who passed my name onto some who needed help, or shared my promotional content online, or simply asked me how the business was going. Without you, I am but a lonely man posting memes on his Facebook page.

For all those following along the journey, here's how the first ten months have gone :)

The Money

I don’t think enough people share the cold hard numbers when they talk about their businesses, but like a good resume, I want to show you my specific and measurable accomplishments.

My initial goal was to make a modest $1,000 this year. I went onto hit that in February so I set a new goal of $5,000. I've honestly stopped keeping track of how much money I've made exactly (I guess I'll have to figure that out before tax season), but I can tell you that I'm somewhere north of $6,000. 


The Commitment

At the six month-mark (after some eye-opening spring travelling with Ariana), I decided that I liked running this business enough that it was time to commit. Here's a quick summary of what committing looks like for me: 


July: I registered as a Sole Proprietor with the Government of Ontario. 

August: I applied for and was accepted to the Futurpreneur Mentorship program for young entrepreneurs. I now have a great mentor who is helping me expand my business. 

September: Record-high month in revenue generation at roughly $1,200. 

October: I became a card-carrying member of the Career Professionals of Canada. 

November: I am studying for my Certified Resume Strategist designation which I hope to have by the end of this year. 


Lessons Learned

The first ten months have definitely dropped some knowledge into my lap. I've done my best to categorize those lessons for you. 


Marketing: You can get it for free, and you can pay for it too. 

I've had great success in posting useful content in my social media just to generate awareness in my business and tossing out the occasional sales pitch. To be honest, the content generation does get challenging, and I've been guilty of disappearing for weeks on end. It's a lot of work and I also worry about over-saturating my newsfeed and wearing out my welcome. 

I'm also starting to dabble in paid marketing (this is where it's great to have an experienced mentor). I’ve done a bit of Facebook and now I’m messing around with Google Ads a bit, which has proven to be fairly successful so far.


Service Excellence: I’ve also found that the best way to find new clients is to do a damn good job with the ones you have! About 20% of my clients have been referred by other satisfied clients. That's not a bad ROI for just doing your job with a smile... also it's nice to genuinely help people, but that’s not as measurable ;) 


People are Amazing: There are a lot of really great people out there. I'm so lucky to get to spend a hour on the phone with each of my clients, hearing all about their incredible lives. I have learned so much about so many different professions that I would have never learned if I hadn't started this business. Talking to people has been my absolute favourite part. 


What's Next?

Here's a quick taste of some upcoming initiatives for my business.

Certification: As mentioned above, I'm currently studying to become a Certified Resume Strategist. Just reading the textbook as already validated a lot of my earlier work and given me more confidence in my ability to help my clients. 

More Succinct Marketing Plan: Some of you may have heard that I recently moved in with my beloved, Ariana. And you may know that she is a digital marketing professional. So between Ariana and my mentor, I feel great about the direction my marketing strategy is heading in. 

Video Course: I've been talking about this for a long time now, but I swear I'm going to do it!


Thanks for reading! If you're thinking about starting a business or you recently started one and you want to talk, hit me up!


Lessons Learned from a 150-page Resume Textbook

Canadian Resume Strategist Textbook Cover

I recently became a member of the Career Professionals of Canada organization and as a new member, I am eligible to pursue my Certified Resume Strategists designation.

The first step in pursuing this designation is reading a 150-page textbook on writing great resumes. I’m almost done reading the book and I wanted to share some useful tidbits that I picked up along the way.

 

1. Think of your Resume as a Marketing Tool. In marketing, the object is to identify the potential buyer’s needs and cater your messaging towards them. For resume writers, that means carefully researching the target company, industry, and job duties in order to highlight the most relevant skills and accomplishments on the resume.

The book differentiates this from using the resume as a sales tool, wherein you might be tempted to just list all the best things about yourself regardless of what the employer needs.


2. Build your Resume around your Unique Value Proposition. Decide what makes you uniquely qualified for the position to which you are applying (i.e. Pilot Project Specialist, Software Solutions Sales Expert, Progressive Team-Builder, Innovative Problem-Solver) and use that as sort of a thesis statement which you back up throughout the resume.

Implementing this would mean using a headline or summary statement at the top of your resume such as “Safety-Focused Warehouse Manager” and following up with accomplishments like “Designed and implemented enhanced safety protocol company-wide; resulting in a 125% decrease in workplace injuries.”


3. Under work experience, emphasize accomplishments over job duties. Use SMART statements (Specific, Measurable, Action-Oriented, Results-Oriented, Time-Bound) to highlight things you accomplished in previous roles, rather than simply listing job duties.

Bad example: “Entered customer profile information in database”

Good example: “Generated 50-75 customer profiles per week using the ABC Software company database, utilized by account management team to increase customer retention by 15% in 2017”

4. Some random, yet specific tips. The tips above are very conceptual. Here are some very specific tips for you from the textbook.

  • Objective statements are out of style (“I would like to acquire employment at blah, blah, blah”) and that space can be used more effectively with a headline (example in point 2).

  • There is no set rule about page limit but lengthy resumes (over two pages) can be off-putting to recruiters unless you have a great reason to take up so much space.

  • Leave plenty of white space on your resume. An overly busy resume is tough to read and could reduce recruiter interest.

  • Avoid photos, logos, and graphics. Unless you are a creative professional or a model, just stick with good-old reliable “words”.

There were lots of other interesting tips and guidelines in the textbook, but I know my audience and that is probably enough information for this instalment.

If you need any help with your resume, I’m getting pretty darn good at writing them, so please reach out!

Thanks for reading!

Changing Jobs is Scary: Even for Me

5-minute read

Me and my amazing co-workers at an 80/90's themed Christmas party in 2015 &lt;3

Me and my amazing co-workers at an 80/90's themed Christmas party in 2015 <3

My friends, I have to admit something. Despite having helped dozens of people transition into new jobs over the past few years, the thought of doing it myself terrifies me.

Maybe it’s because I’m already in a great situation, maybe it’s because I don’t know where I’d go next, or maybe I’m not as change-positive as I thought I was. It might be a combination of these things or something else entirely, but the fact is, I’m scared to make a move. I think it might be therapeutic for me to word-vomit my feelings on the subject. Maybe you’ll get something out of it, maybe you won’t. I’m experimenting here.

Status Update

In 2014, I landed my dream job planning orientation at my undergraduate alma mater, York University. It was the first job I got out of grad school (see my about page for that saga) and I’ve been there ever since.

The first year was tough but as the learning curve settled down, I found myself surrounded by great people, working with awesome students producing meaningful work for people who matter to me. Awesome right? I still love my job and at the same time, I never would have imagined that I’d still be doing it four years later. So why am I still here?

I can think of two main reasons (and they are essentially the same reason) why I haven’t change jobs:

1. I’m afraid I won’t find an equally amazing work environment anywhere else. I have a standing desk. My coworkers and I play Donkey Kong and go for walks in the forest at lunch. My Director gives me the autonomy and support to flourish. And I deeply care about all 13 of the professional staff I work with, not to mention the amazing students!

When I think about how amazing I have it at work, and compare that to some of the horror stories I hear from other people about their work places... I don’t know… it just scares me that I won’t be able to find that anywhere else.

2. I don’t really know what I want next. About one year ago, I started to realize that I was stagnating a bit in my life. Same house, same job, same hobbies several years in a row. It felt weird and unfamiliar to me. All I knew was that I wanted to do something challenging, and I wanted to make more money. Rather than search for a new, harder, higher paying job, I chose to start this business (the beauty of word vomit is that I only just learned that about myself as I was typing). I guess I started this business partially because I could get what I wanted growth-wise without having to risk moving into a new environment.

In the student affairs part of my life, I still don’t have any concrete goals or next steps, and I’m certainly not about to make a change for the sake of changing.

I know change is a huge contributor to improvement. I guess at this point I’m afraid to risk losing what I have for something that I can’t envision.

Conclusion

Sorry, there really is no conclusion. I hate to leave this blog post so open-ended, but I’m afraid that’s the nature of the topic at hand.

If anyone is going through any similar feelings, or has any advice, I would sincerely appreciate your thoughts. You can comment below, or email me directly at greg@greglangstaff.com.

“400” people apply to every online job posting: 3 ways you can rise above them

4-minute read

Job Search Advice

Applying to jobs has never been easier. Find job online, upload resume and cover letter, repeat. Find, upload, repeat… repeat… repeat.

With the lack of effort required to submit a job application, it's not surprising that every study about the job market seems to reveal that an average of 400 people (or another intimidatingly high number) apply to each online job posting and that getting an interview is about as hard as getting into Hogwarts. In my hiring and recruiting experience, I have certainly have seen huge numbers of applicants for particular jobs; however, the numbers do not tell the whole story…  

What these statistics don’t capture is that the majority of these applications are, to put it delicately… "Weak Sauce". I know it sounds harsh, but most applications are straight-up incomplete. Those that are complete are typically generic. An “I’m scared-for-the-future-of-civilization-ily” large percentage of job seekers are simply trying to apply to as many jobs as possible, seemingly without the intention of ever getting one.

Because it is so easy to submit an application (a couple clicks and “voila”, right?) most applicants don't put in the requisite effort to get real consideration from a hiring manager. Their applications aren't being read and it's like they never applied in the first place. So rather than competing against 400 over-achieving Hermoine Grangers, the "real" applicant pool is more likely around 20-40. Seems a lot more doable now doesn't it?

So please don’t be intimidated when you hear those daunting numbers about how many people apply to every job online. The people publishing those statistics are just trying to scare you. But you are awesome! And when you’re really interested in an opportunity, you will put in the work and get yourself into the upper tier of candidates!

 

So, how do I rise above?

It might take a bit more time to apply to each job, but if you apply these steps, it won't take nearly as long to land something great!

  1. Target your resume: Comb the job posting for key words pertaining to the duties you'll be fulfilling and be sure to include each of those 2-3 times in your resume. Also, make sure the most relevant work you've done is featured prominently!

  2. Write a customized cover letter: Include why you'd like to do this job specifically and why you'd like to work at this company. Make them feel special (they better be special if you’re going to spend 40 hours per week there). Let them know you applied to this job for a reason!

  3. Look for additional requirements: Some applications will ask for a sample of your work, an answer to a short essay question, or even a transcript verifying your education. Missing these requirements is a one-way ticket to the “No” pile.

If you're serious about the job to which you are applying, I know you're will put as much care and effort into your application as you would on the job itself! If you do, the hiring manager will notice and you'll rise to the top of the pile :)

Why a Man was Running while I Phone-Interviewed Him... And 3 More Bizarre Interview Stories

bizarre interview stories

You all seemed to really enjoy the first time I did this, with my blog post: Why a Many Once Fell Asleep While Interviewing... And 3 other Outlandish Interview Experience, so here I am sharing four more bizarre interview experiences with you. 

As you're reading these, just remember the moral of the story. I survived, they survived, and no matter how ridiculous or uncomfortable an interview gets, everything's going to be alright. 

*Once again, to make this educational and not simply embarrassing, I’m going to formulate the stories as I recommend you formulate your interview answers, using the CAR method; context, action, result.

1. CNN MARATHON

Context: So you may remember from the previous installment, that two of my stories took place during an interview day at a university in North Miami. If you didn't read the last blog, that was the day where they all watched me peal a grapefruit with my bare hands, and also the day of the infamous, interview-panelist-falls-asleep mid-interview situation. 

Guess what... there's more stories from that day. Including this gem. 

Action: I arrived 15 minutes early for my interview (standard practice) and was instructed to have a seat on the couch in the lobby while they prepared for me. The lobby had a TV playing CNN (what is this, a dentist's office?) and I waited there for about 30 minutes, watching it until someone came and got me. After the first interview, they told me to wait on the couch until a tour guide arrived to show me around campus... which happened 45 minutes later. CNN count is now up to 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Result: I won't regale you with each account, but throughout the day, this happened several more times and within a total of 6 hours and 15 minutes on campus, I spent over 2 hours and 15 minutes sitting on that couch, watching CNN. 

The next day, they offered me the job. I graciously declined. 

 

2. WTH ARE GRITS?

Context: I flew to Ashville, North Carolina for a 2.5 day interview gauntlet with a lovely liberal arts university in the Appalachian Mountains. On the first night I was there, I was taken out to dinner by some very nice university staff to a local restaurant. 

Action: We were all chatting and getting to know each other at the restaurant. It was nice. I think they liked me. At some point, I asked what they all liked at this restaurant and they started raving about the grits. Now, I'm not your average Canadian boy, I know a thing or two about "the South", but I had no idea what the hell grits were. However, wanting to show my willingness to trust in others, I ordered my meal with a side of "the grits".

Result: I quickly found out that grits are basically soggy corn mush. Imagine oatmeal (which I hate) but corn. It looked like grey sludge in a bowl. It tasted like oatmeal (again... gross), but damn it, if I didn't *grit/8 my teeth and slurp down the whole bowl. They were impressed, but in the end, I lost out on that job due to visa complications. 

 

3. A BULL IN A CHINA SHOP

Context: I'm so sorry to do this... I'm sorry... We're going back to MIAMI!!! Same freakin' day as the CNN marathon, as the breakfast-for-one debacle, and of course, the man-falling-asleep-in-my-interview day. 

This time, it's the end of the interview day and I'm meeting with my would-be supervisor to have the standard heart-to-heart, where they tell you all about their management style, the office culture, and basically give you a final pitch as to why you should work with them. 

Action: The director I'm meeting with is a bit of a mess. He's a big reason that many of the events from earlier in the day have happened. He mentioned 3 times that he enjoys drinking at his students' events and now he's describing his management style. I'm going to "transcribe" what he said as best as I can remember (which is fairly well because I've told this story so many times). 

"My management style... well, I'm like a bull in a china shop. I'll walk down the hall on a rampage. I'll poke my head in your door, tell you everything you're doing wrong and then just leave before you have a chance to react. 

"If we're in a meeting, and you screwed up, I'll call you out in front of everyone. I won't mention you by name, but I'll describe everything you did and you'll know I'm talking about you. Later, you'll come to me a say, 'that stuff in the meeting was about me, right?' and I'll be like, 'you know it!'"

Result: The crazy part about this rant was that he really seemed to think these were major selling points and that people would be excited to work in this kind of environment. Here's the thing though... I was not. 

 

4. READY, SET, GO!

Context: I don't normally like to poke fun in situations in which I am the interviewer, mostly because when you're in a position of authority, it just doesn't feel right. This one; for some reason, feels okay. 

I was fulfilling my phone screening responsibilities as a member of the graduate assistant recruitment committee during grad school and I was about two dozen phone interviews deep when this lovely situation occurred. 

Action: I was speaking to a young man about his undergraduate experience when I noticed him breathing irregularly. I assumed this was just nerves (totally natural) and didn't acknowledge it. Then, the breathing got heavier and his answers started getting shorter and less coherent... then the phone cut out. 

Result: The guy called me back and I had to ask him what was going on. He apolgized and told me that he lost me when he ran through a building that had bad reception. I asked what he meant by running and he told me he had been running around his campus trying to find a quiet place to do the interview. 

This man did not advance past the phone screen phase. Find a quiet place to do your phone interviews before they begin, people!

Do you have any bizarre interview stories? 
Share in the comments!

How to Arrange Your Resume: Logically or Chronologically?

Arranging Your Resume

Much like a hiring manager reading your resume, I’ve only got about 6 seconds to catch your attention with this blog post, so I’ll tell you straight away:

In most cases, you’ll be better off arranging your resume in a logical order than sticking to the old fashion chronological arrangement.

Why?

Because the time we have to make an impression on the resume reviewer is so finite, your most relevant experience needs to be at the top of your resume. This means, if you are applying to a job as a Professional Tap Dancer, and you’re currently working as a Lion Tamer, but three years ago, you were touring around the world, tapping with the National Tap Dancing Society, the tab dancing job goes above the lion taming job, even though it’s not as recent.

Not only does the first job need to catch the reviewer’s attention to prevent you from being thrown in the electronic “no” pile, but the first job also sets the tone for how they view the rest of your resume.

Are you a Tap Dancer with some impressive alternative skills working with lions? Or are you a Lion Tamer who used to tap dance? The job at the top of your resume is your brand. Make sure it’s the right brand for the job you want!

 

How?

I know I explained the previous section beautifully, but I must add a caveat. We cannot simply throw chronology to the wind and list our experience in a dimension where time and space are fluid. We have to provide some structure for the resume reviewer so they don’t feel like they're lost in a bad dream while they’re reading our resume.

This is where we get creative with our headings.

Traditional job applicants generally use the tested “Work Experience” and “Volunteer Experience” headings to organize their jobs. When we’re trying to bring our most relevant experience to the forefront of our resumes, all we have to do is customize the heading to suit our needs. Once we have the headings, we can list our experience chronologically within them. For example:

TAP DANCING EXPERIENCE

Tap Dancer                                                                  July 2011 – June 2015
National Tap Dancing Society                                           Montreal, Quebec

  • Something about tap dancing impressively
  • Something else impressive

Assistant Tap Dancer                                                   May 2010 – July 2011
Tap Dancing Society                                                         Montreal, Quebec

  • Something about helping others who were tap dancing impressively
  • Something else impressive

ADDITIONAL PERFORMANCE EXPERIENCE

Lion Tamer                                                                       July 2015 – Present
Toronto Zoo                                                                          Toronto, Ontario

  • Tamed the most ferocious of Lions
  • Taught sign-language to 3 lion cubs

It’s that easy, people. By providing headings, you help the reviewer follow your story, even if it’s not in chronological order. And by using the title “TAP DANCING EXPERIENCE”, instead of just “WORK EXPERIENCE” we’re branding ourselves loud and clear, “I am a TAP DANCER!”

*As a side note, you may be thinking... is Assistant Tap Dancer a real position? Does the Toronto Zoo offer a Lion Taming show? Can Lion cubs learn sign-language? The answer to all three questions is in your heart.

 

FAQ’s of Logical vs. Chronological Arrangement

Can I make a specific heading just for one job, even if it’s the only job I have worked that makes sense with that heading?

Yes. If the experience is relevant to the position for which you are applying. If it’s not directly relevant, you can lump other experience under an “ADDITIONAL WORK EXPERIENCE” heading.

What do I do about LinkedIn, where the work experience is automatically listed in chronological order?

This is where you can use your headline and summary statement to brand yourself. By default, your headline will be the same as your current job; however, we are free to edit this as we please. Use these two areas to talk all about how much you love tap dancing (or whatever it is that you love).

I can’t think of an appropriate heading for my relevant job. What should I do?

If you can’t think of a good job, or you want to run one by me, shoot me an email at greg@greglangstaff.com, and I’ll help you come up with something, free of charge!

 

Starting My Own Business: The First Big Breakthrough (3 Months In)

Resume Writer and Interview Coach

Last time I blogged about my entrepreneurial journey, I was one month in and despite not being able to spell "entrepreneur" without spellcheck, I was flying high! Since then the journey had been… I wouldn't call it a roller coaster, but a very least, a kiddie coaster. Maybe more of a bumpy train ride through a rolling valley.

What I'm trying to tell you is, things were going great, then they weren't, so I had to make some major changes and alter my tactics, and now they're going great again!

 

February - Everything is Awesome

February was amazing. I was still benefiting from the initial boost of publicity I received of when all my friends and well-wishers shared my launch and I generated enough leads to last about two months.

After earning nearly $400 in January, I doubled that mark in February with over $800 in income, surpassing my incredibly modest opening-year goal of earning $1,000. It was great! I was receiving repeat business, referrals, and one client even paid for a friend to receive my services as a gift. I’ve never been gifted before ;)

What I didn't realize while I was thriving is that I was neglecting a very important part of my business.

 

March: Part 1 - Uh oh!

I'm not going to sugar coat it for you, my dear reader, I made $0 in the month of March. The big nuth. I had one solid lead, whom I think I scared off.  Probably because I was so desperate to break my drought.

I must admit, for a brief period, in my over-dramatic state, I thought maybe the dream was dead. Two good months and then fizzled out like a sparkler on a birthday cake (not that sparklers last two months… just… they fizzle out. You know what I mean).

In retrospect, it was easy to see this coming. While I was working with all my initial clients, I disappeared off social media, my website traffic was virtually nil, and my word-of-mouth army had nothing to go on.

 

March: Part 2 - The Redemption

After feeling sorry for myself for a couple of lonely weeknights, I decided to kick my butt into gear. At least I knew enough to understand that marketing was my problem. So I signed up for a $0.99 trial at skillshare.com and completed at least four courses on social media marketing. In SkillShare, I stumbled across a fairly famous guy who seems to know what he’s doing, Gary Vaynerchuk, and I learned the concept of creating a relationship with your followers before you ask for something.

So I bought his amazing book Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World and started crafting my Facebook marketing campaign (do I get a commission if you click on this link and buy this book? Hell yes, I do! But I wouldn’t recommend it if it didn’t help me monumentally). *Sidenote: I just bought his newest book Crushing It: How Great Entrepreneurs Build Their Business and Influence—and How You Can, Too, and I’m expecting even more awesomeness to come.

 

April - I’m a Believer

Using my rudimentary design skills on canva.com, I built up 2 weeks worth of content to post on my Facebook page and my own profile that was either personal to me, relevant to my services, or just topical what’s going on in the world. Then, on my 30th birthday, boom! I hit the world with my first “Right Hook”, a 30% off deal to celebrate my 30th.

What a hit! Within the week I confirmed six new clients and have seven additional leads who I may work with in the near future. That $28 book made me somewhere between $700 and $1200 in about 3 weeks. But what’s even more valuable is that I now feel like I’m doing this thing for real. I’m still learning, but the power of being able to generate interest in my business and build my brand strategically feels amazing.

 

Moving Forward

I’m very excited to be where I am today. I can’t thank everyone enough for all the support you have given me. The referrals, the social media engagement, the genuine interest in how it’s all going makes me feel like I can take this business to the next level and beyond.

Stay tuned for my next entrepreneurial journey update. I’ve got a couple of fun new projects in the works including a SkillShare course or two of my own, and another project completely outside the resume writing industry :)

 

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Meet the Robot Who is Scanning Your Resume... And learn to make him like you!

Resume Scanners ATS

Every single one of us has submitted our resume for an amazing job that seemed like a great fit, only to never hear back again. It can be soul crushing, but after a few such instances, we typically come to accept that our resumes are disappearing into a black hole somewhere.

Well I say, NO MORE! I’ve done some undercover sleuthing to determine exactly where my resume goes and what the difference is between getting called for an interview and disappearing into the abbiss. I have found the gatekeeper. He is a robot. His name is ATS, which, as his creators will tell you, stands for Applicant Tracking System.

In my effort to uncover how ATS thinks, what he likes, and how to please him, I posed as a potential customer with two ATS providers to understand how it works. Here’s what I found out that you can use to make sure your resume gets past the robot and into the hands of a living, breathing recruiter.

 

Who Uses Applicant Tracking Systems?

It was difficult to get a sense of exactly what percentage of the job market is using these robots, because I was getting different numbers from different sources, but the lowest I heard was that 75% of organizations use some form of automated resume scanner. Even if that’s inflated, the reality is, we need our resumes to be optimized for automated review.

 

What does ATS do?

ATS is an intelligent robot. He can manage the entire hiring process including recruiting candidates, reviewing applications and ranking candidates (scanning your resume and deciding if you get an interview). He can also do a whole bunch of fancy stuff to help the recruiters plan and organize the interviews.

The reviewing of applications and ranking candidates function is what we’re going to focus on here. Specifically, how do we make the robot like us and rank us among the top candidates so an actual human will look at our resume?

 

How do I please the All-Mighty ATS robot?

  • Master Your Keywords - Typically a recruiter will upload the same job posting to which you applied, into the ATS, and it will automatically pull keywords from that posting. Those keywords could be things like “Sales”, “Account Management”, “Social Media”, “Break dancing”, it all depends on the job. ATS wants to see those keywords on your resume.

Solution: The beauty of the situation here is that it’s no secret to us what the keywords are because they come from the job posting. Scan the job posting for any words related to key functions of the job and make sure to include them (word-for-word) 2-3 times each in your resume.

 

  • Use Standard Job Titles - ATS weights job title relevance highly. If you’ve got a wacky job title that doesn’t really explain your role, it could hurt your ranking.

Solution: Let’s say you’re an event planner and your most recent job was at a petting zoo. At the zoo, your official title was something bizarre like “Jamboree Master” and you’re now applying to a non-jamboree-related job. To get around this, you can include your standard job title in brackets like this:

Jamboree Master (Events Coordinator)                        January 2016 - April 2018

ATS will like this. He’ll like it a lot.

 

  • Include a Qualifications Summary - ATS, and the human reviewer who will later see your resume, will like to see those keywords near the top of your resume. The caveat here is that you can’t simply list keywords like “team-oriented”, “management experience”, “excel”, these mean nothing in the hands of an actual human reviewer.

Solution: In your Qualifications Summary section at the top of your resume, include 4-6 bullet points of concrete things you accomplished where you can work in keywords. For example:

  • Restructured assessment practices using Microsoft Excel at BloggersInc.

 

  • Keep Format Simple: ATS is a complicated robot in many ways; however, when it comes to resume formatting, he prefers things simple.

Solution: Use simple headings like “Marketing Experience” or “Sales Experience” or even “Work Experience”. Don’t use fancy margins or unusual arrangements. Simply list your job title, duration of employment, company name, and then your bullet points below.

For more information on writing Badass Bullet Points, check out my blog Why Your Resume is Betraying You… and what to do about it.

 

  • Spell out Acronyms: ATS is intelligent, but we don’t want to assume he knows all our acronyms. We have to teach him.

Solution: Instead of writing “RN”, ATS would be happier if you wrote “Registered Nurse (RN)” the first time it comes up. After you teach ATS the acronym once, you can start using “RN” on it’s own. He’s a fast learner.

 

Two ATS Warnings

  1. Do not overuse keywords. ATS is smart enough to know when you’re trying to take advantage of him. Resumes that “keyword stuff” are ranked lower. This is why it’s recommended to stick to using each keyword 2-3 times.

  2. Remember that ATS is not your only audience. You also have to write the resume in a way that will intrigue the human to which ATS will pass off the top ranked candidates. You have to use clear, resume-ready language, that a recruiter will like as well.

 

Want to know how our friend ATS feels about your resume?

There are a several free services that will let you scan your resume through an ATS and give you feedback on how it does. I sent mine to this one; however, they didn’t ask for a job posting that I’d like to apply to, so I’m not really sure where they intend to get keywords from.

I’ll update when I hear back to let you know how it goes.

 

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Join my mailing list below to enter. I’ll be giving away one from resume makeover per month for the next year!

Why a Man Once Fell Asleep while Interviewing Me… and 3 Other Outlandish Interview Experiences

Interview gone wrong

I know this headline sounds bad. I promise, I did not bore anyone to sleep. However, in light of the upcoming April Fool’s Day (which is my Birthday, FYI), I thought it might be fun to revisit some of my most awkward and outlandish interview experiences.

My hope in writing this is that you will realize that interviews can be unpredictable and weird. And that no matter what happens, you will get through it.

To make sure this educational, as well as entertaining, I’m going to formulate the stories as I recommend you formulate your interview answers, using the CAR method; context, action, result.

1. A Fly on the Wall

Context: I was interviewing for a graduate assistant position in a university’s civic engagement office and I was being interviewed by two young men immediately after eating a big lunch.

Action: About 15 minutes into the interview, one of my interviewer’s attention was drawn away from me by a fly buzzing harmlessly around the corner of the room. He watched the fly intently for several minutes, seeming to entirely forget I was there.

After a couple minutes watching the fly, he stood up and started following it around the room. At this point I stopped talking and just watched. Then, in a flash, the man picked up a file folder and swatted the fly to death. He then apologized and we resumed the interview.

Result: I took a graduate assistantship in a different office at that same university, and the fly swatter later became my gym buddy. He never swatted me once.

2. Breakfast Anyone?

Context: I was interviewing for a full-time position as Student Activities Coordinator at a small university in Miami. I had a full day of interviews on their campus, starting with a group breakfast. Normally, these breakfasts are light-hearted conversations over a shared meal to warm everyone up before the interview; however…

Action: The “breakfast” they presented was a cafeteria tray of cold hash browns, bacon and some fruit, assumedly leftover from breakfast served to students, hours earlier. I filled my plate with as little as I could without being rude. Then, as I sat down with my interviewers, I realized that I was the only one with any food. They had “already ate”.

So as they sat watching me struggle to peel a grapefruit with my bare hands, the interviewers pulled out notepads and started asking me full-on interview questions! I understand that multitasking is important; however, but I had never felt so awkward in my life.

Result: They must have admired my grit for dealing with the situation, because they did offer me the job. However, due to the breakfast incident, along with item number four on this list, I had to decline the offer.

3. With Arms Wide Open

Context: I was at an interview conference in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, interviewing with 10 different universities, looking for potential graduate assistantships. My second interview was with two lovely people from the Residence Life office at the University of Kansas.

Action: One of the interviewers was sitting with her legs crossed throughout the interview. Little did she know, by the end of the interview, one of those legs had fallen asleep. The interview was in a small room with no desk between the interviewers and myself, so as this women stood to shake my hand, she immediately toppled forward into my outstretched arms. Luckily, I was able to catch her and no one was injured in the process.

Result: My act of heroism was not enough to overcome my lack of Residence Life experience, and I did not advance with the University of Kansas.

4. Wakey, Wakey!

Context: We’re back in Miami. Only an hour or so after the breakfast incident. I’m sitting down to interview with a panel of 10 of my "would-be" peers. I know what you’re thinking, “10 people is too many for an interview panel,” apparently one man on the panel agreed…

Action: I swear the other 9 people on the panel were deeply enthralled with my interview. But one guy just wasn’t feeling it.

He was wearing jeans and a hoodie… and he was wearing the hood… over his head. He was sitting less than 5 feet away from me. He wasn’t at the other side of the room, he was more-or-less right next to me. And about 20 minutes in, I just notice his head start nodding, and his eyes start drooping.

I kept it as professional as possible, answering questions, and smiling, but I couldn’t stop watching as this guy peacefully drifted into dreamland before my eyes. He would occasionally wake up and start smiling and nodding as if I couldn’t see his chin repeatedly fall down to his chest and his eyes fall shut.

Result: I got through the interview, thrilled to have this story to tell, and as I mentioned in story two, I did not accept when they offered me the job.

 

I have lots more of these ridiculous interview stories, including a time a guy was running during a phone interview, and a potential supervisor who bragged about his “bull-in-a-china-shop” management style. I will save those, for another time. 

Good luck with your interviews out there people!

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4 Reasons Servers Deserve a Job Interview Almost Anywhere

Servers are Badasses.png

Respect your servers, people. Not just while they are serving you. Respect them when you meet them at a party, when you see them at the gym, and especially when they apply to work for you.

If you are asking “why?”, first… human decency. Respect everyone, please. But secondly, servers do amazing work in a high-pressure environment for hours on end. And they do it with a big, toothy smile on their face. I’ve outlined the exact skills servers bring to the table (pun not originally intended but now that I see it, I love it). For context, I’ve also illustrated some non-serving examples of each of these skills that may or may not come from my own life experience.  

Side note: Personally, I’ve never been a server (though I worked in a hotel for five years so I’m no stranger to demanding, impatient customers), and to help me paint the picture, I solicited the assistance of the person who I’ve spent the most time with in my entire life, my dear sister, Michelle Langstaff. Michelle is a long-time server, turned Kinesiologist, and she has bailed me out of more near tragedies than I’m able to count. Thanks, brosif.

 

1. Multitasking

Multitasking in everyday life: Scrolling Instagram with Gilmore Girls on in the background.

Multitasking in the average workplace: Checking your email while pretending to pay attention in a meeting that absolutely could have been replaced by at 3 minute phone call.

Multitasking for a server: You’re speed walking through a minefield of moving food and beverage to greet each new table within 30 seconds of their arrival (a strict restaurant policy). As you’re taking your first table’s drink orders, you notice another table walk in. You quickly punch in the first table’s drink orders and then sprint (without looking like you’re sprinting) to the new table to meet your next 30 second deadline. Just as you’ve punched in the second table's drink orders and gone to deliver the drinks from the bar to your first table, you notice a third table sit down. Now you’ve got table one who wants to place their dinner orders but the clock is ticking on greeting table number three.

I’m exhausted and we haven’t even taken everyone’s drink orders yet! Michelle went on to tell me all about setting the tables, running food, correcting mistakes, offering dessert, getting bills, cleaning spills, condiment fills, and a dozen other tasks that I was too overwhelmed to even write down.

As someone with a lot of event planning experience, I liken this level of multitasking to running three complex events simultaneously, without ever being able to sit down. The thought is dizzying and it inspires great confidence in former servers to deliver when things get hectic.

 

Other jobs that require this level of multitasking: project manager, supervisor/manager, detective, pilot, film or theatre director, nurse, preventative-medicine physician, teacher, event planner

 

2. Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence in everyday life: Telling your friend you’re sick when you bail on their birthday party so they won’t hate you.

Emotional intelligence in the average workplace: Telling your boss that they’re being a doofus without forfeiting your ability to buy dog food… and human food.  

Emotional intelligence for a server: Your salary is determined by how much a random hungry person off the street likes you. There’s nothing to tell you what kind of a day that random person is having, how peppy or straight-to-the-point they’d like you to be, or any other factors that might influence their decision to tip you.

Servers have a split second to gauge the emotional state of the table sitting down in front of them. Once they’ve determined the unwritten social rules that the customer has established, they’ve got to adapt their serving style instantly to please the customer. It’s either that or get a lousy tip.

This kind of interpersonal awareness and adaptability are extremely valued in high-level corporate relationship building and change management projects. So let’s value them just as highly in our serving staff. Tip your damn servers, people!

 

Other jobs that require this level of emotional intelligence: psychologist, customer service rep, manager/supervisor, real estate agent, social media manager, social worker, parole officer, politician, wedding planner, marketing analyst, occupational therapist, crisis negotiator

 

3. Team Building

Team building in everyday life: Asking a stranger to watch your stuff while you go to the bathroom… the real-life equivalent of a trust fall.

Team building in the average workplace: A half-day team retreat in a boardroom with a couch in it.

Team building for a server: Some of the other server experiences I wrote about had crossed my mind before, but Michelle opened my eyes to just how precarious the relationships a server needs to build among their team can be.

As a server, you need the kitchen staff to have your back in case you need to change an order in a rush. You need strong communication with the hosts/hostesses to be aware when tables are being seated. And you need to have each other’s backs, constantly running food for each other, clearing each other’s tables, and mopping up each other’s spills. And it all happens so fast. There is no time to take a personality quiz and share your preferred confrontation approach. You are playing with live ammo and figuring out how to support each other as you go. This is the kind of attitude that is required to run a start-up or pilot project.

 

Other jobs that require this level of team building prowess: entrepreneur, corporate educator, surgeon, manager/supervisor, police officer, chef, athlete, construction manager, human resources manager

 

4. Resilience

Resilience in everyday life: Cooking up a nice healthy chicken breast when you reeeeaalllly want to order that gooey, cheesey, deep dish Dominos pizza with Brooklyn style pepperoni and garlic dipping sauce (sorry, I'm hungry).

Resilience in the average workplace: “It’s Friday. It’s 2:30pm. I know the weekend is just a couple hours away, but I’m going to stay off Facebook and finish this report."

Resilience for a Server: Your work uniform is a bit more revealing than you are comfortable with on this particular day. You have to spend 95% of your workday standing and walking. You don’t know if your shift is going to end at 10:00pm or 3:00am. As a server, you have learned to be comfortable with discomfort.

Beyond the physical discomfort, there are also very uncomfortable human interactions. Servers will regularly muscle through customer complaints, inappropriate suggestive comments (often sexual and unwanted), drunken misconduct, and all-around entitled, impolite, unpleasant people. Obviously most people who visit restaurants are generally kind and considerate; however, even one or two of these interactions in a day is more than most of us are equipped to handle.

Servers find a way to press on through all the challenges, all the uncertainty, and all the unpleasantness. When things get tough, a server will still get the job done. That is why I want former servers on my team.

 

Other jobs that require this level of resilience: entrepreneur, CEO, software developer, author, referee, performer, disaster and emergency preparedness manager, sales representative, firefighter, pretty much every challenging job out there

 

Offer Servers an Interview

Some servers are amazing at their job and want to keep doing it forever and that is awesome! If you do ever have the good fortune to interview a server who is trying to get out of the restaurant game, give them a shot, will you? They’ve got a lot to offer.

And if you are a server out there looking to make a change, don’t sell yourself short. You are amazing!   

Why Interviews are Like First Dates… and how to dress and act to get invited back

Interview Coaching Image 1

Much like a first date, an interview is a feeling out process for both the sides. There may be some nervousness. There will certainly be uncertainty. How are they expecting me to act? What should I wear? How’s my breath?

The first impression counts for a lot.

Now, whether or not I'm a dating expert is still up for debate; however, if you’re going for an interview, here are a few essential pieces of etiquette you need to know if you want to get to a second round of interviews.

If you try any of these on a date, I would honestly love to hear how it goes (hit me up with details at greg@greglangstaff.com).

What should I wear? Wear a suit... for the interview, not the date (unless you feel a suit is appropriate, I don't know what you have planned). For the interview, a suit means your jacket matches your skirt or pants. Underneath said jacket, wear something professional, whether that be a dress shirt and tie or another professional-looking top. Regardless of your gender-expression, suits are your best bet for success. Also please wear dress shoes.

Unless explicitly told not to dress this way by the interviewer, this will be the expected interview attire regardless of what type of clothing is worn in the work place.

When should I get there? For both a date, and an interview, arrive 10-15 minutes early. If you're antsy and want to get there earlier, that's fine, but don't present yourself until you're in this time window. You don't want to show up too early, it can be a bit awkward for everyone if they're not ready for you.

Also, please don't show up last minute. It's a major red flag.

Be friendly with the receptionist (or parents, or roommate): Whoever is receiving you at the office's front desk (or your date's house) will likely be consulted to see how you behaved before the interview (or date) began.

Physical Contact? Shake the interviewers hand before and after the interview: No need to wait for them to initiate the handshake. They might be tired from all the interviews and might not initiate. If they have a valid reason not to shake your hand, they will politely decline and it will not be a big deal, I promise.

If on a date, remember, consent is key. Ask before you do anything. 

How do I follow up after? After an interview, write a “Thank You” email. Later that day or the next, write an email to the hiring manager (and the full committee if possible). Don't try to continue pitching yourself here. Just tell them it was really nice to meet them and thank them for taking the time to interview you.

As for following up after the date, totally up to you. Follow your heart.

I hope you enjoyed this ultra-romantic interview advice. I certainly had a good time writing it. Good luck on your next interview!

Starting My Own Business: Month One

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One month ago today, I officially launched Greg Langstaff - Resume Writer & Interview Coach and greglangstaff.com. But my friends, the journey started much before that fateful morning of January 8th, 2018.

A journey with 3 beginnings

In some ways, it started 6 years ago when I interviewed one million times on my quest to grad school, in America. In other ways, it began 3 years ago, when I started helping friends and family with their resumes and interviews.

But in a very real way, this journey started about a year ago, when my prototypical late-twenties urge to understand money turned into a burning desire to create a source of income that I was in charge of, outside my day job.

The past year, from idea to launch has been full of a lot of joy and frustration, and most surprisingly a recurring feeling of exhilaration with each new step.

Small Wins and Early Success

In this first month, I've been very lucky to have worked with 7 paying clients (and 3 more upcoming), and I was even was paid to speak at a conference.

I've had over 550 unique visitors to my website, 31 people sign up for my mailing list, and I've received a great deal of meaningful compliments :)

None of this would have been possible without all the amazing support I received from friends, family, and well-wishers offering advice and sharing my content, so thank you!

For all those who helped me, and anyone else who is interested, I've curated the most notable takeaways from launching this business.

What I’ve Loved

  • The feeling of creating something real: To start a business and truly own it for myself has been a very empowering and mind-opening experience. Now knowing this is possible, I feel like I could create so much more.
  • The feeling I get when I've helped someone: I get this amazing a rush of adrenaline when I hit send to deliver someone a new resume, and such an endorphin rush when they tell me how much they appreciate it. It's incredibly rewarding to see someone visibly improve their interview skills as I'm working with them. I was not expecting this benefit, but it's amazing.
  • The feeling of getting paid: It’s not a lot of money yet, but it's not nothing either. It feels great every time payment comes in. I think it's the feeling that I'm not 100% dependent on an employer that really brings me joy.

What I’ve Hated

  • My Wordpress Fail: I booked a couple days off work to create a Wordpress site and it was… a disaster. As a guy with moderate to low tech ability, Squarespace was my saviour. It genuinely was as easy and customizable as I hoped.
  • My Mailchimp Fail: I got booted from Mailchimp during my testing phase after accidentally violating several of their anti-spam protocols. I swear I only had 3 of my own email accounts on my list but apparently I spammed myself.

What I've Learned

  • Externalize accountability: Just promising myself I would do something wasn't enough. I repeatedly missed my own deadlines until I learned to create external pressure to meet deadlines. For me, negative incentives work best. I will make arrangements for something bad to happen (usually me giving away or wasting money) if I don't reach a deadline. I've used friends, enemies and a site called stickk.com to make sure I'm held to my deadlines (stickk worked well; however, shortly after signing up, I experienced credit card fraud. Not sure it was their fault, but I wouldn't recommend, just to be safe).
  • Start before you're ready: It's been a month and I'm still finding typos on my website. I still don't have a proper social media marketing strategy and I've completely run out of photos for my blogs, but hey, if I had waited for everything to be perfect, I may have never started.

What's Next?

As I mentioned, I feel like I could take on a world of new possibilities after this great start; however, in practical terms, I have a few things in mind.

  • LinkedIn: It seems like a natural expansion of the job search services. I've been working hard to become a LinkedIn guru, and I'm hoping to add this soon!
  • Building a Social Media Brand: I feel like I have been running around like a chicken with my head cut off, trying to make social media work for expanding my brand. I'm taking a Skillshare course to help me gain some background knowledge… which brings me to my next point
  • Create a Skillshare course: there are a few courses on Skillshare.com that cover job search topics. I think it would be fun and I think I'd do a pretty good job at it, so I'm going to give it a shot later in the year.

Thanks for reading and I'll keep you up-to-date as this journey progresses! Thanks again to everyone who has helped me along the way. You're the best <3