I Stopped Believing Boys (& Managers) That Say ‘Trust Me’ When I Was 17

liar liar
By the time I turned 17 I had worked three jobs and dated a few boys. I learned in both situations that when either one said ‘trust me’ it normally meant they wanted you to do something that would be of great benefit to them, but not you.

Over the next few years, or decades, not much has changed.

There will probably come a time in your career that you hear those words with the intent of having you take on additional work that is most likely not in your best interest. How do you handle it?

You do not ‘handle’ it, you learn to manage your manager that is trying to dump additional work on you that is of no benefit to you.  You do that with the following six steps:

1. Listen

Listening is done throughout the process. First, listen to how the request is presented. Does your manager use any of the following phrases:

– It will be good opportunity for you
– It is a great learning experience for you
– This will be good for your career

But wait, these things could be true, so how do you know that the follow up phrases are not just said to butter you up? Are they given as the beginning of a conversation or as the end of the conversation?

If these statements are given as conversation ending all-the-proof-you-need statements, odds are you are being snookered.

It is a double whammy if there is no additional recognition, movement or monetary value for you.

Listen next after you complete the next important action:

2. Ask

Once you have been presented with this wonderful opportunity, respond with a very simple, non-threatening response:

“Great – how so?”

If these tasks are truly a good opportunity, your manager should be able to explain how the responsibilities are an asset to you.

This may take a bit of volleying to pull back the curtain. Keep asking, in a non-threatening, positive way, using a modified Five Whys approach.

The Five Whys approach is a simple and powerful tool to uncover the root of a problem by asking why no fewer than five times. In this instance, ask probative questions rather than why to discover the root of the request.

The manager may say it will be a good opportunity to learn a new system. The first question you could ask is how much deeper will you get in the system. This will help you determine if you will actually learn more or simply be doing data entry.

If you know the system, you could ask how this opportunity will help you gain more exposure, assist your role, advance your career in your department or company.

Taking this approach will most likely make your manager uncomfortable. What they want more than anything is for you to blindly trust them and just agree with a smile. Asking probing questions was not what they were looking for and they will very well try to dodge them.

This may also be uncomfortable for you, in the beginning; however, this is a very effective tool as long as it is done in a positive, non-threatening way. Getting comfortable utilizing this system will assist you in many, many situations throughout your career.

My best friend, wise woman that she is, took control of her career and role when she stopped believing the ‘trust me’ by coming to the pivotal realization, “Just because you give me poor leadership doesn’t mean I have to accept poor leadership.

That is when she became the master of the Five Why theory and practice.

Your goal is to determine what is in it for you. What are the benefits for you in doing these additional tasks or responsibilities? This is not selfish or not being a team player. This is managing your job and career without being a doormat.

3. Evaluate

Truly look at what is being asked of you in an impartial manner. Is it an opportunity that you could leverage or are you going to be doing all the grunt work and hand it off to someone else to take the credit?

Opportunities that expose you to leaders, mentors, new experiences, departments, technologies, methodologies, approaches and skills are a great benefit to you as an individual and a contributor.

Examine all aspects to see if there is a possibility that, although probably not the intent, you can turn this around to your benefit.

4. Recognize

While evaluating the opportunity, keep in mind your manager’s previous behavior. Which has spoken louder in the past – their words or their actions? Have they passed the trust but verify test? If they have asked you to trust them and demonstrated that you can do so by honoring their words and intent, they pass.

If they did not pass the trust and verify test and knowing you cannot change their behavior, recognize there is one thing you can change: your response. Responding to the request in a new manner, one which demonstrates you recognize the business aspect, your value and look for solutions instead of simply, grudgingly saying yes, will begin to change your manager’s approach when asking you to take on additional tasks.

5. Counter

Instead of saying no, provide a counter. Remember, this is about business and therefore the most effective approach is providing an alternate business plan. This allows you to give your manager an option without being a disgruntled employee who refused to be a team player.

Your manager may tell you that they want you to take this on because they know you will get it done. They trust only you to get it done, said in a most sincere way. This line is almost as old as the ‘trust me’ line.

You can respond, in a polite manner, with, “Yes, I do get everything done that I am supposed; however just because I can doesn’t mean that I am the best person for this task. In this case I think it would be better suited in another area.” Then give your case.

Do not drone on about how it would be unfair to you, you already have so much on your plate or similar. This is now not about you, rather about the best way to get done the task at hand. Keep direct on what you recommend and why in short, impactful points or thoughts.

6. Assign

Sometimes you are just going to have to take it, period. Even after all the above points your manager may look at you and say, “Nice try, you’re going to have to take it on anyway.”

All is not lost.

Accept responsibility with grace, but do not leave it at that. Now is the time to clarify. Define expectations by asking who is taking ownership of what and how. If you are expected to own this, ask to what extent. Are there other people involved, how will you interact with them, will you need cooperation that the manager must establish?

Now is the time to set those expectations then get it in writing.

Follow up with your manager in an email. Maintain a polite, professional demeanor. A short email explaining that you wanted to clarify your discussion and briefly outline the points as were discussed.

If you will be interacting with others who will need your bosses nudging to cooperate, request your manager send an email to that group explaining the project, your role and what is needed.

If you need a little push to get that email, tie the success of the task back to your manager. Tell them if you are going to put your name on this and their name as your leader, you want to succeed and in order to do so, you need their assistance.

Managers are not the only ones who can butter people up.

If you have no other option but to take on the tasks, return to the evaluate step. Look and find a way that you can utilize this as a positive.

Conclusion

You may not be able to avoid taking on these types of tasks or projects; however, you will have established a new foundation:

1. You are not simply going to accept them blindly.
2. You are not combative or outright saying no.
3. You think about the business and offer alternatives.
4. You hold your manager, yourself and other partners accountable.

You cannot change other people’s behavior; however, you can change your response. When you modify your approach and response, behaviors and situations begin to change.

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As the Founder and Principle of Career Polish, Inc, a national career coaching and practice firm, I am a Brand Strategist, Professional Resume Writer and Career Coach.  I work with individual clients, sales teams, leadership and companies to identify, strengthen and effectively communicate their brand, engagement, commitment and most importantly – their value – by learning and leveraging LinkedIn, networking, communication, relationship management, presence and influence.

In other words: I help people get from where they are in their jobs to where they want to be in their careers.

Click here –  CareerPolish.com – to find out more about Career Polish and what we can do to help you.

★ In order to be kept up to date on all my articles ★
please visit LisaKMcDonald.com
★ Click the “Yes Please!” button on the right side. ★
I respect your right and do not sell or share your private, valuable information.

7 Tips For Sending Your Best Resume to Achieve Career New Year Resolutions

writingA week or so into the New Year and the gyms are still full, networking events are brimming and connection requests are flying. Many are working hard on those New Year’s Resolutions!

If one of your resolutions included making a change in your career there is one thing you need to do before sending out your resume:

Conduct a year-end review

This review should include your past year of experience, schooling or volunteering and the visual aspects and readability of your resume.

Following these seven steps will help tweak your 2015 resume to a forward-moving, value driven 2016 resume.

1. Question

If it has been longer than a year since your last resume update, start at that time. Look back at your history and for each position and time period, answer the following questions:

• What did I improve?
• How did I grow?
• What did I learn?
• How did I contribute?
• What changed in my role?

If you realize that your current resume is simply a copy of your job description, you will want to redefine that before identifying improvements. Redirect your bullet points to address the following questions:

• What is my role/what do I do?
• How do I perform these responsibilities?
• Who benefits?
• How do they benefit?
• How do I work with them?
• What is the value that I add as an individual contributor?
• What is the result?

Answering these questions transforms duties (I was hired to do this) into value statements (this is what I do, how and how it creates value). Your bullet points will now be demonstrative statements of your expertise, skills and abilities.

2. Update

Revise any credentials and expertise including training, degrees or certifications earned or attended should be updated and included.

Have you learned new skills that should now be included in your ‘Proficiencies’ section or included in your opening statement?

3. Combine

If you have had more than one position within the same company, consider combining the positions under one heading of the company rather than listing them independently.

At first glance, they will look like two separate jobs so combining gives visual strength.

If the move is more in alignment with where you want to go, combining the positions allows you to tell the story of being at the company with the emphasis on the most recent position. It is not necessary to give each position equal space.

If you have had several positions within the same company moving up along the way, you can utilize an opening statement for the company stating that you began in X position and through a series of promotions into positions of increased authority and accountability lead to the current position of Y.

This allows you to direct your career history with the company to emphasize the elements that are most important to your next move.

4. Cut

A general rule of thumb is ten years for your career history. There are exceptions; this is just a generally acceptable expectation to detail the last 10 years of experience.

Work history prior to that time can be included as line items without detailed explanations.

Is it time to either remove ancient history, or just condense to make more room for more recent accomplishments and value?

5. Revamp

Right under your letterhead you should have an opening paragraph answering an employer’s most important question: “What can you do for me?” How has this changed since your last revamp? Does it still represent what you have to offer and what you want to do?

If your resume begins with an objective statement detailing what you are looking, revamp it to answer the ‘what can you do for me’ question.

This is your introduction; it should entice the reader to continue reading your resume. This is where you demonstrate and introduce your skills, abilities, expertise and value.

A potential employer does not care what you want; they want to know how you can help them.

6. Research

Research similar or desired positions. Look at job descriptions, job postings and LinkedIn profiles. Are there any phrases, key words or ideas that align more with what you want to say or represent you in your resume? Incorporate those into your resume.

7. Reformat

Is your resume feeling a little stale when you look at it? Try Googling “resume sample” and click on images. Look at, do not read, all the examples that are flooded onto your screen. Is there one that really catches your eye? Recreate the format for your own resume.

If the format stood out to you, there is a good chance it will stand out to potential employers.

It is your resume, make it your own.

Utilizing these seven tips can help get your resume into a much more ready state to leverage your resume to realize your New Year’s Resolution for your career.

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As the Founder and Principle of Career Polish, Inc, a national career coaching and practice firm, I am a Brand Strategist, Professional Resume Writer and Career Coach. I work with individual clients, sales teams, leadership and companies to identify, strengthen and effectively communicate their brand, engagement, commitment and most importantly – their value – by learning and leveraging LinkedIn, networking, communication, relationship management, presence and influence.

In other words: I help people get from where they are in their jobs to where they want to be in their careers.

Click – CareerPolish.com – to find out more about Career Polish and what we can do to help you.

Staying In Middle Management Hell – What Are You Telling Your Staff?

Middle Management Hell
Not long ago I wrote an article about the lessons I learned in my first foray into management. I use that word intentionally – management – not leadership. I had not training, no mentoring and no clue.

The other day someone told me after reading that article they wondered, in applying it to themselves, if it meant ‘suck it up cupcake’ or ‘time to leave’. That is a question that can only be answered by the individual.

To read that article, click here: 4 Lessons Learned Surviving My First Leadership Role – Barely

However, she asked a wonderful question, one that I felt so important that it deserved its own article.

She said, “But what will my staff do if I leave?”

This was not meant as a, ‘they can’t get their job done without me’ type question, it was more of a ‘who is going to protect them’ question.

She is in a situation in which she leads a team and reports to the executive management team. Again, I use these words intentionally.

Her boss and his cohorts are not leaders. They diminish her on multiple layers, deflate her sense of worth, demean her contributions and devalue her leadership. This is done on a daily basis in subtle and not so subtle ways, in front of the executive team, her team and anyone else around.

She is a generous person who truly cares about her staff. She wants them to succeed and be happy at their firm. Her fear is that if she leaves the bad behavior will be directed to her staff without her there as a buffer.

My question to her was what happens if you stay? Not just to you professionally and personally; but more importantly: will they think that being mistreated is acceptable because you accept it?

By being a buffer, how much are you protecting them? They most likely stay in the firm because of her and they like their jobs. Of course, you do not want to see your staff injured in any manner, professionally, mentally or emotionally.

Being the shield between a bad big boss and your staff becomes second nature; a fixer transforms into a buffer. You take punches from above and keep a good staff shielded, productive and happy. You take all the hits and this compromises your professional, mental and emotional health – possibly leading to your physical health. You sacrifice so much to make sure your staff is protected.

But they are not.

They see the punches, the disrespect and the horrible way in which you are treated.

You are not a martyr, you are a punching bag.

If they do not know any better, they may think this is the way management works. They may become conditioned to do their jobs in fear rather than a positive prospective like joy, passion or commitment. They may let go of any ambition to move up in their career for fear of being treated like you are treated. They may lose respect for their direct leader due to allowing bad behavior from the big boss.

Staying in a crappy middle management job is not doing you or your staff any favors. It helps all of you to find an environment that is positive, supportive and in line with your professional mission, goals and aspirations. You get the heck out of there and they have a more clear view that the management behavior is not acceptable. You did not have to put up with it, left and are happy; and they can do the same.

✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰

I help identify and set a path to achieve individual career and company goals by using the V Formula:

Your Value + Your Voice = Visibility

Visibility is the leverage to move up or move on in your career; expand your book of business, grow your company and strengthen your team.

–Lisa

Lisa K. McDonald, Owner and Principal of Career Polish, Inc. is a speaker and seminar facilitator at companies and professional organizations speaking to leadership, sales, teams, transitioning/downsized employees and networking groups about career mobility, personal branding, networking, creating executive presence and achieving career movement success. To find out more, visit Career Polish, Inc.

Rethinking My 2016 Goals Thanks To Disney World

Rethinking My 2016 Goals Thanks To Disney World
This is one of my favorite times of the year.  As one year comes to a close and another looms on the horizon, there are many articles, tips and pieces of advice on how to pretty much organize any part of your life from making and hitting career, exercise or weight goals to organizing your garage.
I am one of those people who cannot get enough material about organization, systems and processes.  I dream of one day having the perfectly labeled pantry and immaculate garage.  I love getting the new, shiny notebook and plotting out these tips and techniques to achieve organizational bliss.

 

I always start out with gusto and within a few months look over in the corner of a room to see my not so shiny notebook untouched, unloved and completely neglected.  I won’t even mention what my garage looks like.

I fall into the trap of single minded, goal achievement.

I fail miserably and feel worse than I did when setting the goals after reflecting on how I did not meet my goals for the ending year.  Let the wine and Haagen-Dazs flow!

Not this year.  I had an awakening at of all places – Disney World.

For Christmas we spent the day – and night – at Disney World.  At 5:30 am we started like most everyone else, with a plan.

We had a plan of hitting certain rides, watching the time, scurrying from one place to another beating out all the crowds.  We had a plan. We were determined.  We were going to hit our goals, doggone it, not matter what.

That lasted until about 7 am, when we ran into a snafu right off the bat at the entrance.  After about a half hour delay, we were off.  But the crowd had already began to infiltrate, we had to dodge and weave to get to specified locations to enjoy ourselves.

Oh no!

We became rats in a maze and the cheese was unobtainable.  We blindly followed crowds and became defeated at the sight of lines.

That is when it hit us.  Here we were in 80 degree weather, not a cloud in the sky, in the happiest place on earth and we were concerned about hitting targets.

What the heck.

So we abandoned our original plans by remembering one key piece of advice we had both heard – it is not the destination, but the journey.

We stopped making specific plans and began to enjoy the scenery around us.  We ignored the adults scoffing at their kids that there was no time to enjoy the things they were doing at that time because they had to hit their schedule and began enjoying the laughter and delight in the kids’ faces.

We stopped planning every move and strolled through Frontier Land thoroughly enjoying a turkey leg.  We stepped out of the way of the families that were pushing through to get to their next destination and had fun conversations with other strollers.

We hit every single ride we wanted, and more.  Our longest wait time was 25 minutes, but that was one ride; the rest we eased on in 10 minutes or less.  We saw, and more importantly experienced, every single thing we wanted and more than we anticipated.

We stopped to find ourselves front and center five minutes before the parade.  Best spots in the place and we just happened to luck into them by sheer accident.

Goals are like that.  It is great to have a goal; however, if you only focus on achieving that goal, you miss the most fun, learning and enjoyable part about the whole adventure – the trip itself.

I have decided 2016 goals are going to be more like the adventure of Disney World: an eye on the goal but the focus on the experience.

There was only one ride we did not ride which we wanted to; but given the amazing adventure and fun that we had, we were okay with that.  Instead, we did something neither expected.

Neither one of us are roller coaster ride people.  I do not like them, never had.  A bad experience on Space Mountain when I was a kid turned me off on them forever.  But that day, we were having such a fun time that we threw caution to the wind – we rode it.

We ended up having a great time.  I’m still not doing loopy-loopy roller coasters, but on that one day, I rode a real one.

When you take your eye off only the achievement of the goals, you find yourself doing more than you anticipated because you are enjoying the experience.

Looking back on our adventure that night at the resort, we were amazed at how everything just seemed to fall right into place for us.  We realized it was because we were enjoying the moments in between the goals rather than checking off the goals one by one.

Yes, 2016 the goal is to enjoy the ride along the way to the goals and in doing so, I know I can mark off all those goals I plan on making – and more.  This begins with stopping to look at where I am now, today, and enjoying what this day brings.

✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰

I help identify and set a path to achieve individual career and company goals by using the V Formula:

Your Value + Your Voice = Visibility

Visibility is the leverage to move up or move on in your career; expand your book of business, grow your company and strengthen your team.

–Lisa

Lisa K. McDonald, Owner and Principal of Career Polish, Inc. is a speaker and seminar facilitator at companies and professional organizations speaking to leadership, sales, teams, transitioning/downsized employees and networking groups about career mobility, personal branding, networking, creating executive presence and achieving career movement success. To find out more, visit Career Polish, Inc.

4 Lessons Learned Surviving My First Leadership Role – Barely

Colosseum

My first foray into leadership was a way to keep a job. It was either advance into the unknown or advance to the unemployment line.

Considering I had a young son at home, it was not a hard decision.

One day I was part of a group, the next I was the leader. It did not equate in my head and it certainly did not translate well in the minds of some of my former peers.

There were benefits to being promoted to a leadership position and they were tempered with drawbacks:

  • More pay, countered by a salary which meant 40 hours was now considered part time.
  • A title that would look good on a resume, countered by resentment by my former peers and the added bonus of not being respected by colleagues who still saw me as “just one of the girls”
  • The chance to learn new things, countered with anxiety from realizing I knew nothing at all beyond my previous scope.
  • The chance to be seen and recognized by executive leadership and possibly move up in the organization, countered with the spotlight always on and feeling like I was constantly under a microscope from, and failing, both sides of the field.

It was a field, literally feeling like a battlefield some days.

My supervisor was kind in teaching me my new responsibilities. She was patient, extremely knowledgeable and kind. She also told me the worst thing I had heard to that point in my career:

“You realize, no one is going to like you now. You get used to being alone at work.”

Yikes.

I thought that couldn’t possibly be true, I was a likeable person. My former peers liked me, we had lunch together and laughed. Just because I am now doing something a little different, they can’t not like me for that.

Oh yes, they can.

I was no longer invited to lunches and conversations stopped when I approached. I was an outsider not by anything that I had done, but by a title I accepted.

Mean things were said and I heard my mom’s voice in my head, “Be the bigger person; two wrongs do not make a right.” Plus, I didn’t’ think my supervisor would accept the reason for unprofessional behavior of, “She started it.”

Lesson One: Do Not Take It Personally

There were several departments that I now had to interact with and have decision making in; I knew nothing about them really.

The first couple of weeks I was in full panic mode thinking the only way I was going to earn any respect was to, within two weeks, learn everyone’s job and how they did it.

That faded fast.

Lesson Two: You Do Not Have To Know Everything

I was now partnering with co-workers who I used to report to and support. They treated me like I was their secretary and blew me off.

Most of them were men and would “tease” me, which is a nice way of saying a form of schoolhouse, playground bullying on the gentler side of the scale. I heard a lot of “girl” and “gal” as a constant reminder I was not one of the boys.

Lesson Three: They Will See You For What You Present Yourself To Be

I started to see processes that were duplicating efforts or just made no sense in the way they were being done. When I brought this up to my supervisor, I was told it was the way it had always been done, or I was still too new to really know better. Shot down at every turn.

Lesson Four: If They Are Not Going To Hold The Door Open For You, Open It Yourself

In the beginning, it was a constant battle ending each night like I had just stepped out of the ring and got the crap knocked out of me by a prize fighter. I would put on a happy face at work then lick my wounds on the way home then put on the happy face for my son.

I lived a lie all the time and I got tired of it.

I had no leadership training, no tips on how to be a good manager, time management, communication or relationship building – no mentoring.

I was thrown into the wolves like entertainment akin to the Roman Coliseum Fights.

Lesson Five: Opportunities Are What You Make Of Them

I had enough. I realized that I was ruining an opportunity I was given. I had a chance to learn and grow as a person in this position and it was about time that I appreciate the gift I was given.

I drew upon something my dad had taught me: if you do not stand up for yourself, no one else is going to.

I decided I was either going to kick this opportunity’s butt or I was going to go down in flames, either way, it would be one heck of a ride. This is not a management style that I would recommend.

——————–

Not everyone hated me, maybe just a few. They only made my life hell if I let them.

I stopped responding. I learned to control my body language to not give away that I was either hurt or ticked off.

I was polite, patient and skipped over the nasty comments.

I was consistent in my actions and words. I treated everyone with respect even when they did not deserve it, even if I did not personally like them. I focused on the value they brought to the table instead of the personality and I made sure to recognize them for that value.

I approached my team members and asked for their help. I explained what we were trying to do, recognized them for their expertise and told them I needed their help.

I asked questions as to why they did things the way they did and made it clear that I was not judging or confronting, I wanted to learn and understand.

I had no hesitation in admitting when I did not know something. If someone gave me kudos for something, I recognized the team and the team members that made it happen. I shined the light on them for their value they gave every day to the organization.

Growing up with boys helped, I knew how to talk boy. I also had a son at home so I knew how to use the mom voice when I needed to and to quiet the schoolyard blowhards.

They wanted to make sure I knew I was not one of the boys – damn straight – I’m a girl!

I moved across the office from one of the leaders and the blowhards were having a grand time. One told me, “You better watch out, when he gets mad he throws things out of his office!”

I calmly looked at him and then the gentleman in question and replied, “That’s okay, I’ll just throw it back – and I don’t throw like a girl.” I smiled sweetly (as my mother would tell me to do) and walked away.

No, I am not one of the boys, but you are not going to pull my pigtails, either.

Tired of trying to change things and being told “it has always been done that way” or not being there long enough, I stopped asking for permission.

I started small, just little tasks or projects that I recreated, applied and then showed to my supervisor. At first there was pushback, but since I had started earning the trust of my team, they would let her know how these changes had helped them do their job.

In time, she began to trust me when I had an idea, although not completely and sometimes it was a tug of war, but I persisted. I also told her that I valued her opinion and I would really like her thoughts on a new way when presenting bigger ideas. We began to partner.

I started keeping a mental list of accomplishments and things I learned each day and reviewed them on my way home. I stopped beating myself up for mistakes, and I made many, and focused on the positives.

The lions and I made peace.

——————–

Nearly 20 years later I am now coaching on leadership, communication, moving careers and businesses forward. Although the journey has not always been a pleasant or smooth one, I cherish every twist and turn because it allows me to connect.

For those venturing into leadership for the first time know this: no CEO started as a CEO.

After many years of leadership, development and coaching, may I humbly offer the following bits of advice:

  • Take head from the lessons and paths of others.
  • Find a mentor.
  • Believe in yourself.
  • Accept your flaws, amplify your strengths.
  • Learn to laugh at yourself.
  • Learn to ask and more importantly, learn to listen.
  • Do not try to please everyone – it will never happen.
  • Love and appreciate yourself.
  • Take care of yourself.
  • Get a hobby outside of work, get a life outside of work.

And lastly:

  • To heck with not being afraid to fail – embrace failing miserably! That is where your greatest lessons come that lead to your greatest successes. Plus it is a lot more fun when you free yourself!

✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰

I help identify and set a path to achieve individual career and company goals by using the V Formula:

Your Value + Your Voice = Visibility

Visibility is the leverage to move up or move on in your career; expand your book of business, grow your company and strengthen your team.
–Lisa

★ In order to be kept up to date on all my articles, please visit: LisaKMcDonald.com ★
★ Click the “Yes Please!” button on the right side. ★
★ I respect your right and do not sell or share your valuable information. ★

Lisa K. McDonald, Owner and Principal of Career Polish, Inc. is a speaker and seminar facilitator at companies and professional organizations speaking to leadership, sales, teams, transitioning/downsized employees and networking groups about career mobility, personal branding, networking, creating executive presence and achieving career movement success. To find out more, visit Career Polish, Inc.

How & Where to Best Use Keywords for LinkedIn Profile SEO

LinkedIn Profile Keyword SEO

Optimizing a LinkedIn profile is critical for job seekers. But what if you are perfectly content in the position that you have, what is the benefit for you?

The benefit is the “what if”.

What if you were offered an opportunity to more of what you love, for more money, maybe in a desired part of the country? What if you were asked to serve as a consultant or expert on an intriguing project?

You may not be looking for these things, but wouldn’t it be nice if they came to you?

Recruiters are looking for the best talent, they do not limit themselves to only the truly available candidates – they look for passive candidates. They leverage LinkedIn because it can provide results quickly and effectively.

According to The Undercover Recruiter, 97% of all HR and staffing professionals are using LinkedIn in their recruiting efforts.

The question then becomes – how can I be found?

Keywords

The right keywords in your profile, using them often and to your advantage.

What Are Keywords?

These are the words that are important in finding that which we search. If you are looking for a certain position, the words you use to search that are relevant for the position are keywords. They are buzzwords, jargon and industry language. It is how the industry or companies describe the job, profession or duties.

Keywords are critical in Search Engine Optimization to filter through search engines, social networks (LinkedIn) and applicant tracking systems (ATS) and resume databases.

Where Should Keywords Be Used?

The most effective sections in LinkedIn to use keywords are:

  • Headline
  • Summary
  • Job Titles in Experience
  • Experience
  • Recommendations
  • Skills

It has been suggested that extra weighting is given in LinkedIn search algorithm for keywords in the Headline, Experience Job Title and Skills sections.

Before we get to how to best use the keywords, let’s get a foundation of what they are and how to find them.

What Keywords Should Be Used?

The keywords that you use will depend upon your industry, job, experience, qualifications and where you want to go in that next level.

Keywords are also how you describe what you do.

In January of 2015, many articles published lists of the top 10 buzzwords for 2014, which was a variation of the following:

Motivated, Passionate, Creative, Extensive Experience, Responsible, Strategic, Track Record, Driven, Organized/Organizational, Effective, Expert, Innovative

Soon we will be getting the lists of what was overused in 2015. Although somewhat helpful, these lists tell you about the previous year, not forecasting for this year and what to use now.

I think there is a bit of subjectivity in the lists. If organizational is in your title or instrumental in the value you provide – use it. If you are a recognized expert, then say it. Yes, many people may overuse the term expert; however, if you demonstrate it in your context then you are perfectly fine using the word ‘expert’.

Determining the Right Keywords

There are several sources for mining effective keywords.

Talk It Out

You are a great resource that you might be discounting. Try this exercise – sit down in front of a computer and type out a conversation that you would have with someone unfamiliar with your job. Describe to them what you do and how you do it. Include people or groups that you work with and how you work with them.

From this ‘conversation’ you can mine several possibilities.

Search For That Job

Do a search on your own or previous job. Pay attention to titles, products, services, job responsibilities, certifications or degrees listed in the requirements or responsibilities.

Job boards are a great resource to mine for keywords. Indeed.com is a very robust job board and easy to navigate. It also has other tools on the website that can be helpful – more on that in a bit.

Scope Out Your Competition

Do a search on LinkedIn for those doing the job you are doing or the job you want to be doing and mine their profile.

The top searches will have certain items in common; pay attention to not only the words, but how they are used.

Power Your Research

Once you have blocks of text, now is the time to synchronize your research and condense it to the most effective keywords.

Copy and paste the text from your internal conversation, competition and job boards into a word cloud application. Tagcrowd.com is a phenomenal site that takes the information you paste and creates a visual word cloud highlighting the most important and often used words.

Below is a screen shot of a word cloud from a project manager position found on indeed.com:

Get Geeky With It

You can take your search one step further on Indeed.com and see how certain keywords are trending.

Go to Indeed.com/jobtrends
– Type in the terms you want to compare; use quotes around the words and separate with a comma
– Click on Find Trends
– The graph will show historical information on how those words have been used in job postings, how they are trending and how popular they are recently.

Below is a screen shot comparing Information Technology with IT, as an example.

How to Use Those Keywords

Remember, these keywords are impactful in describing your brand and the value that you add to an organization, team and clients.

Headline

This prime real estate has 120 characters to benefit from – use it to your advantage. Go beyond your title and company and utilize keywords that make an impact for you, your brand and your value.

Instead of “Information Technology Director, ZBC Company

What about: “IT Director Leading Global Enterprise Growth Strategies – Improves Quality – Strengthens Productivity & Efficiencies

That packs a little more of a punch!

Summary & Experience

Use those keywords to tell not only what you do, but how you do it.

The summary is not the place to list your current job as a series of job duties; it should tell your story. Your experience section should follow suit – do not list a bullet point list of what you were hired to do; tell the reader what you did.

If you were involved in a Six Sigma project and it had an impact, let the reader know. Simply stating ‘Six’ Sigma is not enough. It is putting keywords into your profile, true, but it is not painting a picture.

Instead, try: “Instrumental in implementing Lean Six Sigma processes that significantly improved processes resulting in a 46% decrease in costs for xyz.”

Reflect back on the top LinkedIn profiles of your peers or of those holding the position you seek to get an idea of how to communicate your value.

Job Titles in Experience

Your job title must match up on your profile to what is used on your resume and what the company listed; however, you have 100 characters to expand on that to create a more complete, and impactful, picture.

Financial Analyst

Becomes:

Financial Analyst – Asset Management, Market Analysis, Trend Forecasting, Profit & Loss, Auditing

And that is 97 characters.

Recommendations

When requesting recommendations, forgo the boilerplate template that is provided and create a personalized message. Use keywords when asking for a recommendation to encourage the responder to do the same.

“Joe, as you and I worked together at KDI Company and you are familiar with my skills in trend forecasting, corporate auditing and asset management, I would greatly appreciate if you would write a recommendation for me that I could post on my LinkedIn profile.”

You have not only politely asked for a recommendation, you have given a road map of what you want to highlight!

Skills

Select from the skills provided by LinkedIn ones that best support you, your value and your brand.  Remember, the right key words in your skills section have been said to have extra weighting in the LinkedIn search algorithm.

How Not To Get Scrooged At Work – 9 Ways To Get Your Voice Heard

Scrooged

Oh meetings, how we can sometimes loathe thee. Especially if we feel that we cannot or will not be afforded the opportunity to contribute.

It is not uncommon to have meetings in which certain participants steamroll the entire gathering refusing to release the floor or budge on their ideas. These are the Grinchs and Scrooges.

Some participants like to talk just to hear themselves talk and feel empowered by taking over a meeting. Other steamrollers are actually insecure about their own ideas, value or contributions. They use the reverse effect – ram it down everyone’s throat in such a forceful way that just by sheer volume and content it tricks the participants during that time to believe there is confidence and validity to their ideas.

On the other side of the table are introverts, polite ones and the nervous. Those participants may not be comfortable with expressing their ideas in a public forum, too polite to interrupt the Grinchs or Scrooges or afraid of being shot down for a “bad” or “ridiculous” idea. Those are the Hermey the Elf, Rudolphs or Bob Cratchits.

Just like little Hermey got to be a dentist, you too can have your voice heard at work; here are nine strategies to help build your confidence and speak up:

1. Speak Early

Agendas and tones for a meeting are set early. It is important for you to have your voice heard and be noticed early in the group. Often, in being nice or apprehensive, Hermeys, Rudolphs or Bob Cratchits wait to get a feel or hope for an opening to speak up; by that time it is too late and they run the risk of being steamrolled or too afraid to speak up.

2. Encourage and Build

An easy way to get your voice heard is to compliment or state agreement. A simple, “Great idea Scrooge” can get you heard and noticed in a non-threatening manner. Only agree if you truly agree.

A way to insert your point is to take the positive approach incorporating agreement to a degree. This is encouraging and building.

“Great idea, Grinch, and what if we built on that to add stars on top of all the trees?”

3. Body Language

Messages are perceived and “heard” more through the use of body language rather than verbal communication. Before you speak, set the tone. Straighten up, lean forward, place your hands down on the table in front of you, roll your shoulders back, tilt your head up slightly – in other words, prepare to speak and be seen.

There are three ways to get your voice heard, let Grinch or Scrooge know you were listening, slow down the steamroller, fine tune points and set you up to make further contribution. These can all be done in a non-confrontational manner that conveys that you are not challenging the other parties by using “I” statements.

4. Ask Questions

Instead of feeling like you are jumping in and directly opposing an idea, which may be perceived and reacted to as an attack; ask questions. Asking for clarification is also helpful to the group.

“Excuse me, Grinch, I want to make sure I understood what you just said. Was it your point that we should take down all Christmas lights…”

5. Find Cohesion

Sometimes a meeting can get a little frenzied with competing points, escalating voices and tempers. One way to redirect and rebalance is to find the cohesion between the conflicting parties.

“If I understand Grinch correctly, you are saying we should work overtime on the holiday and Scrooge is saying there should be no early shut down on the holiday – so at the core you are both suggesting that the toy factory stay open that day. Am I correct?”

6. Clarify Differences

Another frenzied point is when Grinchs and Scrooges want to argue for the sake of argument, but no one really knows what they are arguing about because they have lost sight of the point due to the bad behavior.

“Just to make sure I understand the point of disagreement – Grinch you are saying expand hours and Scrooge you are saying reduce wages, is that correct?”

Of course there is another way that forces you to have your voice heard –

7. Ask For a Project

Sometimes you just have to take the bull by the horns and put yourself in a position that is not comfortable. Realize that the Grinches and Scrooges may try to interrupt and steamroll, remain calm. If they blow off some steam, simply redirect:

“Thank you for that insight Scrooge, at the conclusion of my presentation that would be a good point to address”

“Good point Grinch, I think that will be addressed in just a moment when I continue with my presentation”

Then continue from where you were.  Remember, sometimes they just like to hear their own voice just for the sake of it.

8. Practice

Practicing in front of mirror at home may feel silly, however, habits are learned. Pretend as though you are in the meeting surrounded by only Grinches and Scrooges. Ask a question, clarify a difference or find cohesion and watch your body language in the mirror. Do you look confident? Does your voice sound confident? Practice until you speak with a solid tone, manner and presence making it much easier when the time comes.

9. Why You Are There

The most important element to being heard is to remember that you are there to contribute because you add value. They may be louder, more boisterous and pushier than you but that does not mean they have more to contribute or have better ideas. They are just louder, more boisterous and pushy – period.

LinkedIn All-Star Status Rocks & How To Reach it in 7 Steps

linkedin all star banner

The year is coming to an end and soon people will be making New Year Resolutions or professional goals for 2016. I imagine on many lists will be to either:

Get a better job or move up in their industry
Grow their business

Growing your network is paramount in accomplishing either one of those goals. The good news is LinkedIn is king in growing and nurturing your network.

Before you can leverage the power of LinkedIn, you must be able to be found, understood and add value.

Today begins a series of LinkedIn tips and insights to building a strong profile before the New Year to prepare for another series on leveraging LinkedIn to accomplish your 2016 goals. The topic today:

Achieving All-Star Status

There are five levels of status, from least complete to highest completion: Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced, Expert and All-Star.

Why it is important to be an All-Star

According to LinkedIn:

Users with complete profiles are 40 times more likely to receive opportunities through LinkedIn.

That is forty times more likely to receive opportunities including job offers, new clients, new markets, new connections to centers of influence and more.

Whether you are actively looking for a new job or open to hearing about opportunities, a 2014 Jobvite survey found that 94 percent of recruiters use LinkedIn to source and vet candidates.

It might be safe to assume that recruiters find plenty of candidates within the All-Star category without venturing into Expert or Advanced profiles.

What it Takes to Reach All-Star

For your profile to be considered complete, there are seven criteria:

  1. Profile Picture
  2. Experience
  3. Skills
  4. Summary
  5. Industry & Location
  6. Education
  7. Connections

It is not enough to have each section, they must be completed in the most impactful way.

Profile Picture

Although the statistic of profiles with a picture are 14 times more likely to be viewed, the caveat this statistic does not mention is that profiles with professional pictures are more likely to be viewed.

Not just any picture will do.

Your photo should be current showing you in a relaxed, inviting, professional manner. This means no bathroom selfies, Facebook fun pictures, pets, kids, families or group photos.

There are exceptions to every rule and if your business is all about dogs, having a puppy in your photo may just be the ticket for you – as long as it matches with your profile headline.

Headline

You have a limit of 120 characters for your headline. Yes, I said limit. Your title and company name is not all that you can fill in for this section. This about this as a very short introduction, you want to be known for more than just your title and company, right? Add keywords and phrases here that represent you and the value you provide.

Experience

Your experience section will need your current position and two prior positions, all completed with supporting information. In other words, simply listing two previous positions is not enough.

Use experience section to build your story of where you have been and how it is getting you to where you are going. List the value you provided, who you served, how you served them and the difference you made while there.

You have the parameters of 200 minimum characters in the experience summary and a maximum of 2,000. You do not need to use all 2,000 characters – a short paragraph will do; accompanied with a couple of supporting bullet points is even better.

If you are a student or unemployed, you will still need to list a current position. Without it you will not be ranked as an All-Star.

Skills

For All-Star status, you must have at least five skills listed. You can add up to 50 skills, but let’s not get carried away. Fire eating, fire breathing, small talk, cat herding, chewing gum, Halloween, snacks and drinking water are all listed as skills. Seriously, type them in and see for yourself!

If you do not have a skills section click Skills section under profile summary at the top of your profile. You may need to click View More to find this section

To add more skills:

Select Edit Profile under Profile at the top of your page
Scroll to the Skills & Endorsements section of your profile
Click on +Add Skill button in the top right corner of this section
Select Yes after “I want to be endorsed”
Type in skills and when they populate, click on the skill then click on Add
Click Save when done.

Summary

Your summary is your introduction to you. This is your opportunity to speak to your audience directly, in a one-on-one conversation. It should be an expansion of your headline and incorporate your style, strengths, specialties, experience and atta boys.

Use keywords to emphasize and describe rather than throwing in industry jargon to try to appease. Remember, this is a conversation, not a script.

Think about writing your summary from this perspective: you are sitting down at a foo-foo coffee house across from someone you want to read your profile.

They ask you, “So, tell me about yourself” Now go! How you answer that in a relaxed, professional environment is how you write your summary.

You have 2,000 characters to play with so make them count. It is not necessary to use them all as long as you tell your story the way you want the reader to understand it.

Industry & Location

These two areas simply tell readers where you are located and in what industry you operate.

When editing your profile, click the edit button next to these fields (see below). Enter your country and zip code then enter your industry. To finish, click Save.

Education

Simply add your education in this section. It is not necessary to put graduation dates. The additional benefit of adding education is it gives you an opportunity to connect to fellow school attendees and alumni – you have a built in connection!

Connections

For All-Star status, you need at least 50 connections. Start by connecting with professional contacts you know. Use the search feature to search companies you worked for to find former or current employees on LinkedIn. Do the same for the schools listed in your education section.
These are the basics for reaching All-Star status. Look for articles soon to feature:

Where, when and how to leverage keywords to complete your profile
Above the fold, maximizing the spaces you are not completing
Telling your story to reach and connect with your audience
Recommendations – how to ask for and receive recommendations that work for you
… and more!

★ I have created a tip cheat sheet on several sections and character limits; to view or download, just click here: LinkedIn Personal Profile Cheat Sheet 

Why Your Employees Are Calling Me To Help Them Leave You

yeah that would be great

If you are any way responsible for employees at your organization, I have a truth you may not want to hear: either you take care of your employees now or I’ll be taking care of them soon.

I am a Professional Resume Writer and Career Coach, I help people find the jobs they want rather than the ones they have. Your employees may be talking to me now and you do not know it; you probably will not know until it is too late.

According to Gallup Workforce Panel study 51% of employees are considering a new job, 2015.

There are severe consequences to losing an employee including major costs. According to a Catalyst.org, employee departures total costs can reach as high as 90% – 200% of their annual salary. This includes time, money and resources. A departure can also significantly impact engagement within remaining employees.

They are not all leaving for promotions; many are leaving for a lateral move.

It is not just about money. It is about personal satisfaction.

You could be losing your staff and it can be avoided.  Employees leave for a variety of reasons; however, they can generally be categorized within five areas, which may overlap:

Boredom

According to the Gallup study, 58-60% of individuals said the new job allowed them to do what they do best, as opposed to 41-49% that left due to a significantly increasing their income.

This is a sentiment that is becoming more and more common. A client perfectly illustrated this point by saying, “I can go anywhere and make good money. Where I am, I am bored. I need to be challenged. I can do what I do where I am with my eyes closed. I hate it.”

Broken promises

This can come in many different forms:

A promise of advancement or pay increase after a probationary or specific time period.

A misalignment of what they were told they were going to do and what is being asked of them.

The company culture is not at all what was represented in the interview.

Unappreciated

Employees know they bring value to the table; it is nice to be recognized for it. They do not want to feel like a nameless face. One of the worst feelings for an employee is to know that their leadership not only does not know anything about them, they do not care.

An employee may go the extra mile to make something happen for a client and never hear a word from their leadership.  It is worse to hear that that is their job, they should go the extra mile.

They have strengths and ambitions that they have tried to discuss with their leadership only to be responded to with brush off comments.  Now is not the time, we really can’t spare you right now or I don’t know why you would want to do that, it’s not your job.

Pay that does not meet industry or market standards is another form of lack of appreciation.  Income is a motivator, it may not be every employee’s primary motivator; however, it is a significant factor.

Underutilized

Leadership diminishes the value of their employees when an employee volunteers or requests to take on additional responsibilities or learn new tasks and is met with, “I know you could do more, but we really need you to just do what you are doing right now.”

Another form of under-utilization is not listening to employees.  They know.  They know about the clients, failings in the processes or opportunities to improve service or products.  By failing to ask and worse – listen – to employees leadership is under-utilizing its most valuable asset.

Environment

The gamut of bad environments include being unclear of what is expected of them (and worse, getting bad reviews because of it), favoritism, bullying, strong-arming them to stay, increased responsibility without increased pay and sabotage.

What You Can Do Now

  • Talk to them – make it a two way conversation. Do not assume that everyone is just fine because they do not complain. Not complaining does not mean they are happy.
  • Make sure their compensation is right. Throwing money at them when they are on the way out is not the time.
  • Find out what excites or motivates them: opportunity, income, growth, personal fulfillment, empowerment or stability.
  • Find out what frustrates them and what can be changed. Have an honest conversation about this.
  • Discover their strengths, find out their ambitions and help them align the two areas.
  • Help them grow: develop a plan that meets their personal learning style and strengths – one size does not fit all.
  • Treat them as a treasured, valuable employee that you are grooming to leave for a higher position. They may get recruited for another position, but if they feel valued where they are and the rest of their needs are met, they will stay with you, because you value them and allow them to grow.
  • Have continual conversations, set benchmarks, establish deadlines, follow up and ask them for their feedback.

There is a theory that for a successful long term personal relationship, you should treat your partner the way you did when you were dating; the same could be applied to your employee work relationship. You should view them as a valuable investment worthy of your time, attention and mentorship.

We have all heard the saying, “Nobody is irreplaceable”, that holds true for employers, as well. If a company does not create an environment that fulfills them, they will replace that company.

Whatever You Do, Don’t Job Search During The Holidays!

hire me santa

Whoever is giving that advice and following it up with “hiring slows during the holiday season” I wish they would stop.

Just stop. It is terrible advice.  The holidays are a great time to continue a job search. They provide unique opportunities giving job seekers a break from traditional searching techniques.

Here are 10 things to keep in mind during a holiday job search, including benefits of job searching at this time:

  1. Some searches slow down or are temporarily delayed; however, there are plenty of opportunities still available and interviews to score.
  2. Companies have a need due to a recent “reorganization” at the end of the year or by staff giving notice to take advantage of time off coupled with holiday closing. Candidates will be needed to fill these needs at the start of the new year.
  3. There is less competition because so many take the ill advice of taking a full break during the holidays.
  4. Holiday hiring has its own timeline. It requires flexibility and patience to accommodate staff taking time off before they lose it at the end of the year, holiday parties and companies closing for a day.
  5. If you do not hear by the end of the year it is not an automatic rejection. There are many factors coming into play, not only the ones mentioned above, but the human element of after the first of the year everyone reengaging to move forward.
  6. Fiscal year and budgets come into play so your start date could very well be after the new year, this could also work to your advantage in negotiating salary and benefits.
  7. This is the time for good cheer and many attendees at holiday events will welcome the opportunity to help you with your search or spread the word.
  8. There are more networking opportunities that come along with holidays – more events and more attendees. Think beyond company events to research and include Chambers of Commerce or professional associations, as well.
  9. Partner changing your strategy (attending more events) with changing your approach. Think of this push as growing your network instead of finding a job and it will increase your ability to enjoy the interactions much more. Added bonus – partner these two with a goal of helping those you meet.
  10. Use holidays as an excuse to reconnect with your network and gently remind them you are searching. Send holiday notes, cards or emails wishing them well and casually mention, in an upbeat tone, that you are continuing to search for your next great opportunity and know it will be coming soon. If your contacts have helped you in the past, be sure to thank them.

If you are uncomfortable with holiday cards, send a message at the first of the year wishing your network a happy new year with the same sentiment about continuing to search for your next great job, which you know is right around the corner.

✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰

I hope you enjoyed this article and it provided value for you. If so, please click on the follow button so I may continue to share valuable content with you or the share buttons to share with your network.

I help people identify and set a path to achieve their career goals by using the V Formula:

Your Value + Your Voice = Visibility

Visibility is the leverage to move in, move up or move on in your career; expand your book of business or territory, grow your company and strengthen your team.

–Lisa

Lisa K. McDonald, Owner and Principal of Career Polish, Inc. is a favorite speaker and seminar facilitator at companies, professional organizations and colleges speaking to leadership, sales, teams, transitioning/downsized employees and networking groups about career mobility, personal branding, networking, creating executive presence and achieving career movement success. To find out more, visit Career Polish, Inc.

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