Rant: Effective Resume Writing

We get lots of resumes on the fourth floor, and while there are definitely some great candidates in the mix, we can’t help but question some of the submissions we receive, from PR newbies to seasoned pros alike. Some are riddled with errors, some spell Debra‘s name incorrectly, some don’t spell check – we could keep going. So to help out all the wannabe rockiteers out there, we’ve compiled our top tips (in random order) for writing a PR-focused resume.

1. Always spell check. There is really no reason not to. It’s free, it’s built right into your computer, and you’re applying for a communications position – we need to know you can communicate error-free.

2. Remember this episode of Seinfeld? Well, we’re with Mr. Lippman. Chill out on the exclamation points – they are rarely necessary in a resume/cover letter. When in doubt, leave them out.

3. Not sure who to address your resume to? Don’t write “to whom it may concern” or “hiring manager”. That’s taking the easy way out. Check the company’s website for clues. Still can’t find it? Call them! Don’t ask to speak with the president, but ask a receptionist or junior staffer who would be the best person to address your resume to. It shows initiative and attention to detail, and it’s super simple to do.

4. Most people embellish a bit on their resume, we know that. Just make sure you’re not flat out lying. For example, if you don’t know Canadian Press Style, don’t say that you do. Part of our hiring process includes a writing and editing test – we’ll catch ya if you’re lying, and then we’ll just be annoyed that you wasted our time. Most companies will expect you to be able to hit the ground running with the skills you list, and it will show pretty fast if it turns out you’re not as experienced as you implied.
5. Try to keep your resume to one page. Two is okay if your experience is super relevant. But don’t list the part-time burger-flipping job you held in Grade 11*. It’s perfectly okay to only list the jobs that will serve you in the position you’re going after – in fact, it’s preferred.

*Teacher’s Pet exception: If you’re a student applying for your first-ever internship, it’s okay to list a few part-time jobs you’ve held, especially if they demonstrate a skill relevant to PR (customer service, writing, sales, etc). It’s better than leaving your resume empty. Part-time jobs show responsibility and workplace experience, but they should only be seen on very junior resumes).

6. Read the job posting from top to bottom and follow the directions. If it says to submit your resume only (and no cover letter), then do so. If it asks you to quote a competition number, make sure you include it. PR is all about attention to detail!
7. This should go without saying as it applies to all industries, but tailor your resume to the position you’re applying for. Don’t send generic carbon copies to every company you apply to. Your resume will be stronger if it reflects what the hiring company is seeking.

8. For cover letters, be creative and let your personality shine through in your writing, but keep it professional. It will help you stand out from the pack.

9. This is Canada. Make sure all your words are spelled the Canadian way: flavour, honour, centre, etc. You get the idea. We hate to see “color.” It’s COLOUR, people!

10. Follow up. Nearly all of us at rock-it landed our first interviews thanks to good follow-up. Many bosses get hundreds of emails a day, so if you’re not persistent, chances are you’ll fall through the cracks. Use good sense though – don’t follow up with Robin Kay during LG Fashion Week, don’t follow up with Cameron Bailey during TIFF, and don’t follow up with Debra Goldblatt-Sadowski during either of those events. 😉


Sending us a resume? Please, please consult our checklist first!
Do you have more resume tips? Tweet us @rockitpromo or comment below!

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Rave: Childhood summer vacations

There’s nothing quite like summer to make us nostalgic about our childhood. Two months of blissful, school-free days filled with swimming, ice cream and road trips. The heat must be getting to us On The Fourth Floor, because the other day we started reminiscing about our favourite memories of past summer vacations.


My grandparents used to live on a lake near Parry Sound – it’s my favourite place in the world. We’d be outside all day and in my case, most of the time was spent in the water. At night we’d hang around the fire and play horseshoes. I have such great memories of being up there. Lots of laughter, jokes and love.




Image Source
Just picture a mini-Lisa jumping off that dock.


Lara:
I spent every summer from ages nine to 19 at Camp Winnebagoe. Life was good. I made lifelong friends, spent every waking moment outside and learned so much.


I love Murphy’s Ice Cream Parlour in Streetsville. My grandpa used to take me when I was about five, and it was always the happening spot in the summer. All the cute soccer playing boys would hang out there, which was nice little eye candy to go along with the ice cream. I still get a kiddy scoop of Caribou Tracks when I go there now.
Image Source.
My family always takes an annual summer trip to Stowe, Vermont. It’s the annual Stark Stowe reunion. We make T-shirts every year. We usually stay at the Golden Eagle resort and hit the bike path, alpine slidesBen and Jerry’s factory, and a dinner at The Whip. These trips have become especially fun and meaningful since both my brother and I have had kids.

Michelle:
I loved going to the Toronto Zoo. I always had a fascination with watching animals and thought of it as such an adventure. I still dream of going to African Lion Safari – maybe this is the summer!


Image Source.
The mighty polar bears at the Toronto Zoo.
Christina

I grew up spending summers in Bass River, Nova Scotia. As a city girl, I adapted quickly to country living (with a ton of allergy pills and nose spray) and soon learned to milk a cow, drive a tractor and race around on a four wheeler. My favourite memory is when we spent two weeks camping across Newfoundland with our best family friends. I think it’s one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. 
I loved the cottage that my family used to rent just north of Sudbury. My brother, sister and I would basically be left on our own for the entire time, and we loved it. We’d swim, fish, explore in the woods, read books (well, only I would do that), stay up late and roast marshmallows over campfires at night. I still love going to cottages, and try to get to a friend’s every chance I get. To me, it’s the essence of summer in Canada.

Debra:
I also spent my summers up at camp in Perth, Ontario. It is where I found my independence, hit puberty and fell in love. I also learned how to build a fire, camp out with just a tarp and play capture the flag. I love the memories that I have and wouldn’t trade those summers for anything.

What is your favourite summer memory? Leave a comment, or tweet us @rockitpromo.


Fashion-able: Andrea Ford transforms baby to big girl

Mila’s big girl room – part one 

This is Andrea Ford’s first visit to the fourth floor. She’s here to share an exciting project: the transformation of a nursery to a stylish ‘big girl’ room for Debra’s daughter Mila. 

 Andrea Ford is the founder and owner of RE:Style Studio in Toronto. The first of its kind in the city, RE:Style Studio is an interior design studio, workshop and event space for décor seminars, one-on-one upholstery classes and DIY parties.


Ford is an interiors stylist and designer whose work has appeared in magazines such as Style at Home, House & Home, Canadian Family and Toronto Life and as the former Home Editor of Chatelaine and as a regular guest designer on CBC’s Steven & Chris. Visit the RE:Style Studio website here and follow her on Twitter here.

 

I was so excited when Debra asked me to take on creating a big girl room for her daughter, Mila. I’m on a roll with kids’ rooms these days and have been going straight from toddler to teen since November. 
The biggest ask has been for sophistication; none of that animated stuff, which shouldn’t be a surprise, since my clients are all pretty stacked in the style category themselves. We had a blank slate, turning a spare room into the next space for her to grow into. This is what we were working with:
  The room ‘before’. Boring.

My approach to design starts with a checklist. There are so many beautiful things out there in décor and design that the possibilities are endless and can be distracting. So – especially when it comes to kids’ spaces – function has to come first.
The big priority for Mila’s room was attractive storage solutions and a built-in look. Her toys may explode some days, but they need to have a place to hide away too. I found these Ikea units that allowed me to build in a toy box and little mini desk (later, it can become a bench or more storage) for a custom look.

I wanted to create an unpretty aesthetic – this kid is funky and frills just won’t do. Mixed prints and patterns in graphics, and a touch of floral, creates interest without the usual saccharine cutesy-ness. 
Bikes wallpaper by Rollout.

To make the prints work, we’ll minimize stark contrast to keep things calm – warm pinkish-beige to cuddle the walls (‘Pink Pebble‘ by Benjamin Moore), while bold wallpaper (so well-suited to the art throughout the house) accents one wall.
For the walls, we chose Etsy art that’s just a little unexpected, like a pop art monkey monarch and a non-cuckoo clock, will help Mila learn to tell time. Both add that element of playfulness, perfect for a little big girl.



Next time, see our progress as the pieces start to come together!

Meet Our Team: the baby edition *with a prize!*

You’ve met our whole team over the past few months and now we have a challenge for you. We’ve dug through the photo archives (back when photos were printed on paper, not stored on computers), and pulled out shots of ourselves when we were in diapers.


Your challenge: Guess which chubby face belongs to which gal on the fourth floor. You’ll win tickets for two to an upcoming Canadian Stage production.


How to enter: Email your guess with the whole team matched up to the right baby to
carly.intern [at] rockitpromo [dot] com.


This first correct guess wins. Go!

 Our team: Carly, Rachelle, Christina, MichelleDebraLisaAlana, Lara and Abby







What’s in Your….Shower Stall?

On most mornings, our alarms go off, we hit snooze once (okay, twice), then shuffle over to shower. Being an office full of ladies, we love talking products, from the latest leave-in conditioner to the body butter discovered while travelling. 

Here some of the products we gotta have when we’re lathering up and getting ready to tackle the day.


Alana:
The top thing I have in my shower is a comb. Brushing my wavy hair once it’s dry will take out the waves, so I comb in the shower to get the knots out. I love Goody’s Curl Wide Tooth Comb and Lift

Next is a good shower gel and loofah. Sephora’s Vanilla Cupcake body wash smells amazing and makes my skin nice and smooth.


Dove unscented soap is always in our stall. It doesn’t irritate and I can also wash my face with it. I get tons of free shampoo, so as long as it lathers, I use it. 



And I always have a very good deep conditioner for my hair. Aveda and Matrix Biolage are my go-to’s.


I have a million wonderful and girlie products all around my bathroom that help keep me clean, soft and pretty (many of them from gift bags). 

These are the staples that I use up and replace often: Dove Revive Body Wash, MoroccanOil Restorative Hair Mask, Victoria’s Secret Coconut Passion Hand and Body cream from the Secret Garden Collection.


Christina:
I love Kevin Murphy’s shampoo for colour treated hair and his Angel Rinse deep conditioner. I’m not a natural blonde, so thanks to Ritual2 for introducing me to this awesome line. It smells fab, and my hair is the healthiest it’s been since Grade 8 (before I was introduced to the world of bleach, dye and CHI hair straighteners).

I also love Mary Kay makeup remover. The shower is the perfect spot to remove my mascara and MK is the only one I’ve found I’m not allergic to.

I always have a pair of exfoliating gloves in my shower; everything else is on constant rotation. 

My latest obsessions are two products that I discovered when I was in NYC over NYE: DevaCurl No-Poo shampoo and Jessicurl Confident Coils Styling Solution. The No-Poo doesn’t lather and it makes your hair really knotty at first – but, when you rinse it out, your hair feels amazing and is tangle-free. It’s all natural, with no sulphites or other fake things. I’m in love.


Lisa:
Dove bath products, especially conditioner. I’m doomed without conditioner, my hair gets all bird-nesty.

Also, Formulab face cleanser, and a loofah.


Carly:
When it comes to products, I’m a Kiehl’s girl through and through. Made from all natural ingredients, their packaging is also recyclable. It’s really the least I can do to help save the environment.

The Crème de Corps Soy Milk and Honey Body Polish has all the right ingredients to moisturize and exfoliate my skin. For a liquid body cleanser that’s oh-so green, I’m currently sticking with Aloe Vera Biodegradable Liquid Body Cleanser. 

With their latest limited edition bottles designed by Jeff Koons, any bathroom can be instantly updated in true contemporary MOMA style.   

What are your shower must-haves?

Tweet us @rockitpromo

It’s Valentine’s Day – got plans?

Whether you’re single, in a relationship, or “it’s complicated”, the pressure’s on to do something today. Fear not – if you haven’t yet figured out your game plan, we have some non-cheesy ideas to help you out.
Flying solo?
The great thing about being single for V-Day is that you don’t have to consider anyone else when making plans. Pretty sweet.

If staying in, grab some wine, takeout and a classic romance like The Way We Were or Breakfast at Tiffany’s. These flicks focus on good storytelling and great acting, so you won’t roll your eyes at the love stories.  


Lisa: My best Valentine’s Day ever was at my friend Fran’s house. We were both single, so she invited me over, cooked her famous KD, with dill pickle-flavoured Crispers and tortilla chips with spinach dip. We dimmed the lights, lit some candles, and laughed more than I ever have before on Valentine’s Day.

Take the pressure off to do something romantic and hang out with friends. The Drake Hotel’s 86’D Monday, Valentine’s Edition, is a great night out. Bartenders will compete for the honour of best Pink Squirrel. What’s a Pink Squirrel, you ask? Find out tonight at 7 p.m. There’s also great live music from Boot Knives to go along with your cocktails. 
 This is not the Pink Squirrel that will be at The Drake.

Michelle: Being single on Valentine’s Day can be super fun. I’ll have dinner with my other single friends at Woodlot and dance up a storm at The Modern Love Affair party at Footwork. Valentine’s Day doesn’t just have to be about romantic love.
A deux
Of course, being in a relationship for Valentine’s Day is great. On what other day of the year is it acceptable to publicly proclaim your affections in the most over-the-top way you can think of?
Instead of typical roses and chocolates, why not show your love by making something yourself? The effort put in will be majorly appreciated. We love Bakerella’s massive list of sweet treat suggestions. Like her 14-layer cake. 

Bakerella’s mega-impressive 14-layer cake
Rachelle: Valentine’s Day will always hold a special place in my heart. I got engaged on V-Day in Quebec City during Winter Carnival. My husband Ariel proposed in front of 80,000 onlookers at the annual Winter Carnival parade. We became local celebs, made it into two newspapers and were the photo of the day on Le Soleil’s website.
Just because you’re taken doesn’t mean you have to have a quiet, candlelit dinner. Go for a skate on an outdoor rink with some hot chocolate, then play a board game at Snakes and Lattes. Some friendly competition, a wobbly pop and a few good laughs is a lovely way to spend an evening. 
 Play nice! Image source.
Christina: Favourite spot? My house! I hate going out to restos because more tables are crammed into the same space. This year, the fiancé and I are grabbing some lobsters, a bottle of wine, and watching America’s Funniest Home Videos. Wow… I just realized how domestic that sounded. 

Another fun idea is a staycation. Find a deal on Hotwire.com, or get a package from a hotel like The Drake or the Yorkville InterContinental. It’s a getaway without the hassle of travel, and you won’t even have to make the bed in the morning.

Debra: For one of my fave Valentine’s Days, Matt had our friend Chef Ezra Title drop off a delicious meal at our house. Matt’s a fantastic cook, but this was nice as he didn’t have to do anything but follow some simple instructions, and we had a brilliant meal at home with nowhere to go after but our living room to listen to music and drink wine.
 

 Happy Valentine’s Day!

What’s In Your… Carry On?

We all know by now: whether it’s a short flight or you’re in for the long haul, keep your prods to a minimum. And by minimum, we only mean 30 mL or less. In terms of how many items you want to bring on though, well, that’s still left up to you and the size of your travel bag, luckily. We asked our office what their carry-on staples are, and this is what we’re rocking:



Michelle: I typically bring a mix of magazines in all sorts of genres so I don’t get bored. My selection would look something like: Toronto Life, Flare, Nylon, Adbusters and one tabloid like Us Weekly.


I would DIE without music, so always have to have my iPod. It helps me tune out the sound of other people snoring, kids crying, someone coughing, etc. And I have a huge fear of my luggage getting lost, so I always bring one outfit and pair of shoes in my carry on, just in case.
Lara: As soon as I clear customs, my traditions kick in. First stop: Starbucks for a Frappucino. 

Second stop: mindless magazines and a bottle of water. These are added into my overstuffed carry-on, which also always has a few other things, like ear phones. 

I barrel through new releases on flights. I never travel with out my various chargers – Blackberry, iPod and camera. If there’s one place where I find the leggings trend appropriate, it’s on a plane. Enter comfort zone as soon as the bathroom light comes on after take-off.


Rachelle: My top 3 must-have carry-on items: Rosebud Salve lip balm: It can be used on basically anything dry (lips, face, hands). Baby wipes, which are great for the babe, and to clean my hands if the bathrooms are not vacant. Otrivin nasal mist: I know, kinda gross, but my sinuses kill me on the plane.
Carly: Apparently, there is something to be said about packing light. Don’t ask me about it; I have never done it. When choosing between my Michael Kors wedges and Pedro Garcia booties, I bring them both.

Then I throw in my Stuart Weitzman’s for good measure. So what’s in my carry on bag? All the shoes I can’t fit into my suitcase.

Christina: I’m one of those weird people who loves to fly (comparable to the weird people that enjoy going to the dentist). This is because I usually take the opportunity to catch up on sleep. After boarding, I enjoy a glass of Merlot and then catch up on my zzz’s. 

My carry on includes items that make my snooze a little more comfortable:

A good book. I read a little until the Merlot kicks in and I get to snooze. Gum for when I wake up from my snooze. Also, great to chomp on while descending. I pack Pur Gum in spearmint. It’s aspartame-free, and one of my New Year’s resolutions is to cut this chemical out of my diet.
 

Sunglasses. The second I get off the plane, I slide on my sunny gees to cover my sleepy eyes.

Debra: I never go on a plane without regular flavoured Bubbalicious (for take-offs and landing), a spray toner that I transfer into a small spritz bottle (I like Dermalogica), and Rosebud Salve lip balm. I also always have a pashmina in case I get cold.

Lisa: A really warm sweater! Airplane blankets are never warm enough and I always get chilly on planes. I would also bring a full-sized pillow if it would fit. I like to be comfy.

Alana: First and foremost, a good book. I love reading at night, but find that I’m out like a light after three pages, so taking a good book with me on vacation is always a must. Bonus: it also gives me a chance to actually finish the book in a normal amount of time. 
Second, snacks. If I’m travelling out of the country, I’ll always bring something small but filling, like granola bars, just in case of delays or as a potential life-saver from unappetizing foods (as tempting as those chicken feet look, I think I’ll pass). 

Other essentials include a travel toothbrush and face wipes and anything else that will make my trip run smoothly!

Abby: Number one carry-on must-have is a good book or two, depending on how long the flight is. I wear my glasses and bring contacts to change into before I land (they get way too dry on the plane). And toiletries: a toothbrush, my makeup bag to look a little less rumpled (Benefit’s benetint is the single best way to do this) and a hairbrush. 



I love Nina Garcia’s words about airplane travel – something along the lines of “flights are not an excuse to wear yoga pants. Look presentable, wrinkle-free and comfortable, not like you’re going to the gym”. I try to live by this (sorry Lara!).