Career advice for young professionals

Last week I arranged a mock-interview with a colleague of mine to help my client know what he doesn’t know. I’m posting some of my colleague’s post meeting e-mail comments to my client because the advice she offered him applies to anyone preparing to enter a professional practice today. It’s the same advice I got 35 years ago when I started looking for my first career position.



“I have taken the liberty of making some notes about what I might consider for a cover letter, were I in your position. However, these letters are personal to the author – but I would like to emphasize that it is a sales job when you apply for a job – you are trying to sell yourself as an asset to a firm. It should never be (a) “to whom it may concern” letter– it makes it look as though this is a mass mailing, not a specific application. It will be ignored. Address each letter individually to someone in the firm (preferably the principal, or someone identified as the managing or hiring partner).

You indicate willingness to relocate in Ontario. The profession is seriously worried about the aging of professionals in the smaller communities where there is a shortage of available new blood coming up in the firms. I hear this complaint from Midland, Belleville, and other towns of that size and smaller: and even more acutely in more distant and smaller locations. Where there is only one professional in town, the community is seriously compromised for all matters that require independent representation. Everyone wants to work in Toronto and Hamilton, in particular. They do not seem to anticipate the rewards of being a significant community member, and a resource, in a smaller community. These communities are wonderful locations to gain experience, jumping off platforms, although I think once in such a community, the benefits become alluringly apparent.

If you belong to their professional association, you have access to not only the job opportunities posted from time to time, but also to the membership directory, which would provide access to the contact information for firms outside Toronto. Those firms on the membership list are those who are on the whole practitioners who wish to contribute; be connected to their colleagues and educational resources; and to keep in touch with legislative change and professional developments.

Lastly, I am disappointed: I trust you will remember to send a brief email to each interviewer, to thank them for their time, and to say just one thing that you appreciated from the experience, and, as appropriate – that you would really appreciate the opportunity to contribute to their firm. This really should be sent out within 24 hours of the interview.”




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At Sixty Miles Per Hour and 60 Years Later, General Motors Finally Beats Rolls Royce

Legions of stupid advertising and marketing experts would have you believe that long copy is dead and that today’s communications are all about clever little sound bits.


These are the same silly people who would like you to believe that an exciting ad, with-out a decent USP or a powerful unfair advantage, can sell your stuff. Think long and hard before you say yes to their groundless, selfserving selling propositions.

Great ads and great articles shine a light on great products (or services). The facts, not supposition or hyperbole, are the source for the insights which lead to great advertising.

Great ads can’t sustain a lousy product or service because you can’t shine shit with cleverly written little sound-bites.

rolls royce stor

In the 50’s David Ogilvy adapted a copy line from a 1933 Pierce Arrow ad for Rolls Royce and in doing do created one of his most famous campaigns: “At 60 miles an hour the loudest noise in this new Rolls-Royce comes from the electric clock”. His ad was laid out and read like a factual and informative news article of the day. The ad featured not one, but thirteen genuine and unique consumer benefits, the f.o.b. price and the contact information. The ad sold the vehicles and the Ad Agency’s capabilities. The 9th benefit read as follows: "By moving a switch on the steering column, you can adjust the shock-absorbers to suit road conditions."


The other day I was reading an article in Popular Mechanics (by Ezra Dyer) when I tripped over this line: “At sixty miles per hour the Stingray can adjust (the suspension) for each inch of road.”

I’m still trying to process the impact of that statement from a mechanical POV and a communications POV.

It’s staggering. It’s an incredible USP.  It’s a genuine consumer advantage.  It has profound bragging rights - here I am blogging about it.  And it has ties into a rich heritage of superior automotive journalism.


Long live well written + relevant long copy!



1,000 words or more . . .


I was doing some online research when I stumbled upon this gem titled “CNE 1955”. I love photography like this because it can launch so many credible storylines.

And while this shot is 60 years old, put a smart-phone into the hands of the lady sitting in the shadows of this back-stage, and this shot could have been taken yesterday. So it travels through time as well.




Faith Based Leadership - Part 2

On December 16, I published a post that advocated the use of “Faith” to achieve your 2015 business objectives.

To some of you that seemed pretty dumb because it suggested that you need faith to get through some of the undefined variables that you’ll encounter as the year progresses.

Yesterday I heard a great interview with a Chaplain employed by a large window and door manufacturer in Calgary. With over 1,200 employees that represent about 50 different cultures and six world religions, it took the Chaplain over three years to establish the trust required to make a difference.
    •    He was hired because the company owner wanted a more cohesive and productive corporate culture.
    •    The Chaplain’s job is to listen an provide support and advice to those who ask for it.
    •    The Chaplain’s job is NOT to convert employees to the company owner’s religion or point of view.
    •    The result is reduced absenteeism as well as greater “presence”. Less employees show up only from the “neck down” because they have someone to turn to with their personal internal strife.
    •    No two days are alike except that all days require the Chaplin to make rounds, looking for those who need a kind word or more support to do their best.

I was struck by a few things:

    1.    The  progressive + innovative nature of the business owner. He understands that a real corporate culture needs to include alignment and support of the  spiritual side of enterprise.
    2.    The commitment to the decision. While hiring one full time minister to support 1,200 employees is not a financial issue since it represents such a small fraction of the company’s total salary and overhead, recognizing and accepting a 3-5 year results horizon is admirable.
    3.    The opportunity the owner is giving each employee to make the most of their day by resolving personal issues that affect them and their families.

As I said in the original post:

Faith provides open-minded leaders with more options and unforeseen opportunities that “arrive” and are “arrived at” in ways and means that need to be believed before they are seen.

 My 1st article on Faith Based Leadership . . .