99% is Not Complete

checklistOh, how much easier life would be if it were true that 99%, even 95%, was complete. Those last little touches would be unnecessary and the excited momentum you began a project with would carry you through.

If only.

But that is not the case. No matter how much you have completed, until the job is done, 100% done done, the job is not done.

My bedroom is a perfect example. I am redoing my bedroom. I have ripped up the carpet and padding, scrubbed all the walls, refinished the bed frame and side tables, cleared clutter, painted all the trim, doors and walls and put down new flooring. I am at 99%.

I still have to do the paint trim around the ceiling and baseboards, cut 1 ¼” strip of flooring for a 12’ wall and reassemble the bed frame and baseboards.

I have come to hate that 1%.

But it is the push that matters. The final details that put it all together and make it complete. I would love to just forget that 1% and say good enough, but I don’t really want to sleep on a mattress on the floor and have two-tone walls with wayward baseboards. The dogs would not mind, but I do.

I literally have to talk myself into that last 1%, as ridiculous as that sounds. Of course I want a beautiful new bedroom, all bright, shiny and relaxing. So why would I have to force myself to finish? Human nature.

In job searching the 1% push comes into play. All too often a resume is 99% complete, but it is not done. That 1% can be the factor taking you from a yes pile to a no pile.

Some 1% factors include:

Spelling and grammar check – do not rely solely on the little red and green squiggly lines.
Contact information – make sure the most appropriate email and phone number is listed.
Visual check – print it out and looking at it capitalizing on white space, bold and fonts.
Fact checking – are your dates and titles correct?
Consistency check – Have you listed all your positions the same way, if you list the year of graduation for one degree, have you done it for all?
Relevancy check – remove the “References available upon request” is not needed, does it still appear, are you listing personal interests or other information not supporting your value?
Cover Letters – The company and contact information is correct for each position (I have received cover letters with the name of another company or position listed)

It is the small details that set a room and a candidate apart. Muster that energy to complete the project in entirety before you send it out for the world to see.


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

Resumes: How to Demonstrate Remarkable Leadership

leader standingAs a Professional Resume Writer, I know how to make things sound good on paper. More importantly, I know that all too often value is not represented on a resume.

All too often resumes are a compilation of duties, a rehash of a job description. This only tells the reader what you were hired to do, not what you did. Just because you listed a duty on your resume does not mean you did it well.

Leadership is a combination of competency, adaptability, character, authenticity and accountability. Demonstrating these on your resume opens the door for conversations. The key is demonstration rather than simply stating. Here are some items to consider when writing your resume to highlight each area:


A prepared thirty second answer to a question can easily portray authenticity, but true authenticity is demonstrated as a constant throughout their career, even during down periods or setbacks. Can you demonstrate growth, success or value during the periods of your career that were off your path?

Are you authentic to your teams? Do you hire people smarter or better than you, do you encourage and expect teams to grow in their positions, do you expect your teams to set and achieve personal and professional goals important to them even at the risk of losing them on your team?


The greatest leaders I have worked with and interviewed all are horrible about talking about themselves because they see the truest and most important value in the people they lead. Do you take ownership of the failures and give praise for the successes? Do you support, encourage and have the backs of your team?


How do you demonstrate support of your leadership and teams? Do you assume ownership of propelling your team as a whole and each individual? Do you have consistent expectations of yourself, your teams and your leadership? Do you go above and beyond without being asked or need for recognition?


The only constant is change. How do you adapt to change, approach it, leverage it and lead people through it? How inclusive is your team – do you solicit feedback, do you listen and adapt based on input? Do you surround yourself with people better than yourself to raise your abilities, insight and performance to react in the best interest of the team, company and clients?


This is an obvious – can you do the job. Beyond having the required experiences and skills, have you grown in your capabilities? How do you approach tasks or projects, what skills do you utilize to optimize changes, setbacks and expectations? How have you made improvements and accomplished your successes? How do you set goals, kept teams accountable and delivered at or beyond expectations?

These qualities are not defined in a single, well penned bullet point. They are qualities that are demonstrated through actions consistently throughout your career and each position.

Creating a mindset of demonstration is vital in conveying value rather than duty. When evaluating your career, think about what you did, how you did it, what skills were used, who did you work with, how did you work with them, who received value from you doing what you do and what impact that value made.

Translating answers to the above questions will produce a solid resume of demonstrative statements proving you are a remarkable leader rather than a page of empty proclamations.


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

4 Things Not to Say to Your Dog or an Interviewer

luke suprisedOne of my top cringe-worthy sayings is “I’m a people person.” When I would interview someone and they would tell me this I would respond with, “That’s nice, I’m a dog person.”

Dogs are incredibly intelligent creatures. Although there are times that I challenge my own conclusion on this when they do weird things like eat their own waste or vomit, but overall, they are intelligent. They understand what you say not only in words but in body language and actions.

I cannot say, “I’m going to walk to the store” because the mention of the word ‘walk’ starts a frenzy in my house. Of course, when something has been destroyed in my house and I say the phrase, “Who did this?” I get a trio of blank stares and head turns with perked ears with the implied response of, “We don’t understand what you are saying, we don’t speak human.”

There are phrases or words I cannot use if I want to maintain an environment of peace and calm; there are also words or phrases that I have learned I just cannot say to my dogs. These just happen to correlate with phrases that you should not say to an interviewer.

You Understand

No, really, they do not. Dogs and people are going to understand what you tell them, not what you intended to tell them. Telling a dog, “I cannot play with you right now because I am too busy, you understand” does not equate to them getting the fact that you have a deadline.

What they know is you are ignoring them. Period. You might as well tell them that you don’t love them anymore. Dogs do not connect dots. Cats chase glowing red dots, dogs are oblivious to dots.

When talking to a hiring manager and they ask you about a situation, ending your response with “you understand” is the same as telling them “I really do not have a good answer to your question so I am leaving it up to you to fill in the blanks for me.”

If you are asked a question that gives you the opportunity to highlight a skill set or accomplishment for goodness sake take full advantage of it. They will not know how wonderful you are and what a great fit you are for the job if you do not tell them. Do not assume they are connecting the dots. You know what they say about assuming….

I Didn’t Mean To Put That There

My pack has always included big dogs. I had a Great Pyrenees, Sheppard/Husky mix and currently a Lab – pictured above. The thing about big dogs is there is nothing they cannot reach. My kitchen counter tops are clean and bare by necessity, not design. I can put something in the very back of the counter or lock it in the oven and as soon as I leave the room it is eaten. My Lab can unlock things. He laughs at child locks.

At this point it is of no consequence to the dog in telling them that I didn’t mean to put the food item there and that it wasn’t for them. They don’t care. If I put it there and it is within reach then it is fair game. That means if they can reach it, they will eat it. Plain and simple.

For an interviewer this equates to putting something on your resume that you do not want to discuss or highlight. Everything on your resume is fair game. If you list it and I am a hiring manager than I have full opportunity to explore it.

Often I have found people will include items on their resume that are actually weak areas or tasks that they do not want to do. When reviewing these items in resume reviews I am told, “I didn’t mean to put that there, I really did not have a lot of exposure to it but I thought it would look good on my resume.”

No, it does not, especially if you cannot speak to it with authority and confidence. I am not a technical genius to say the least. If I were putting a resume together for myself I would not mention proficiency in certain applications because the truth be told, I might have worked in them, but it was a slow and painful process.

Trying to make yourself look better by listing something you are not skilled at and then going a step further by trying to proclaim you are proficient in it is one sure fire way of discrediting everything that you have said to that point and everything after.

If you cannot speak to it as a value add then leave it off

Biscuits are Not a Priority

My dogs live for treats, and tummy rubs, but mostly food related items. Biscuits are a priority for them. I call all treats ‘biscuits’ because this is their favorite word. My dogs are spoiled, they get biscuits for things like going outside and pooping. What an awesome life they live, they get rewarded for doing what they have to do by nature. I would have a revolt on my hands if I proclaimed that biscuits were no longer a priority in my house.

You need to know the hiring manager’s biscuits. Factors include industry, clients, target markets, skill sets; what are their goals, mission statement, short and long term plans. If customer service is their biggest biscuit for the position for which you are interviewing then you darn well better come prepared with a box of results, value and accomplishments related to customer service.

If, on the other hand, you tell them that customer service is not high on your priority list or worse, tell them that you do not like it, you have just lost the job. One, you were not prepared for the interview; and two, you are not the right fit.

I once interviewed a young lady for an investment associate position, she would be responsible for tracking orders in the market, spreadsheets for clients and verifying costs basis. She was doing fine until she told me that she wasn’t really a math person. Math was a pretty big biscuit for that position.

I Don’t Have Time

I don’t know about your dogs but when mine want to go play and I am trying to finish something up and tell them that I don’t have time right now I get the look. One will give me the pathetic look, one will give me the disdained look and the other gives me a look of sheer confusion. This is important to them, how do I not have the time? Do I not love them anymore? Next thing you know I will tell them that I don’t have any biscuits.

Telling a hiring manager that you do not have the time to learn a new system, technology or skill set is telling them that their job and company are not a priority for you; now or in the future. You do not see it worthy to give them extra time to be a part of the team.

If you are asked about the company for which you are interviewing and you tell them you did not have time to research it, you are telling them you do not care. You are not engaged or interested in the position. It could very easily translate that you are only looking for a paycheck.

My dogs have taught me about unconditional love. No matter how bad my day, if I am out of the good biscuits and they have to suffer with the yucky ones, or have less time to play, they still love me. This is just one wonderful thing about dogs.

Jobs, on the other hand, not so much. Start slacking on the biscuits, giving less time or effort and they do not show unconditional love; they show you the door. You have to put in as much as, or more, than you expect to get back to reach that point of satisfaction, joy and success.

If you are going after a job you have to want it; and wanting it means you have to know the ins and outs and be excited to do that and more. This is best demonstrated by doing your homework, being prepared, communicating your value and be engaging in the process.


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

4 Steps To Create Engagement In Any Conversation

a conversationCommunication is important in business, communication is vital. It is not enough to introduce yourself while networking, tell your clients what you do and take orders from your boss. You have to exchange information and build alliances.

It is called engagement and there are four steps to creating engagement in any conversation:

1. Ask a Question

Soliciting information from another person opens the door for them to share information and insight with you. In turn, based upon their response, you can then help guide the conversation.

2. Keep Quiet and Pay Attention

Once you ask a question, give the recipient all your attention, do not talk over them and do not be distracted by anything else in the room. Give them your undivided attention in order that you can hear what they say and relay their importance to you.

3. Listen

This goes beyond hearing their words or preparing a response before they are finished giving their response. Listen, really listen to what they say, what they do not and their body language. The total message is comprised of all three.

4. Follow Up

If you were paying attention and listening to what they said, you will be able to formulate either a follow up question for further clarification, deeper understanding or to be able to provide comprehension of what they said. It is validation to the other person that you were listening, what they said was important and you are engaged with them.

Using these four steps, you can build rapport with anyone at any time in an easy manner allowing them to provide all the information and clues to guide the conversation and find a common ground, allegiance, prospective opportunities and collaboration.

3 Reasons To Quit Your Job –Is It Time To Go?

As the song gYoung entrepreneur contemplating a projectoes, breaking up is hard to do; especially when it is with your job. There are many different motives for a breakup; however, we can summarize them into three reasons: you want to, you need to and you have to.

Understanding the difference between these three reasons can help you salvage your job, reclaim your sanity or get the clarity to get the heck out.

Each reason is going to be individual to each person; one person’s want is another’s need. These lists are generalizations and not all inclusive; it is important that you clarify in your own mind your needs, wants and have to reasons.

You Want To

A want according to the dictionary is a desire or a wish for; for our purposes this is a time that you are just not feeling good about where you are and this creates a bit of wanderlust.

  • You are not valued in terms of ideas, income, accomplishments or recognition.
  • You are stuck unable to advance or gain new knowledge and skills, there are no more opportunities.
  • You either dread going to work or it is mind-numbing, the passion or fun is gone.
  • You dream of doing something else, all may be just okay where you are, but you dream of something more.

You Need To

The dictionary defines a need as a requirement, duty or obligation; in a job situation this is when the situation is causing some degree of damage to you personally or professionally, although not on a catastrophic scale.

  • You have a bad boss who you do not respect, does not respect you or is not going anywhere. They may be incompetent, unsupportive or sabotage your efforts for their own gain.
  • You do not fit it or you clash with the corporate culture.
  • You no longer know what is going on or are the last to know; your boss is no longer including you in decision-making or projects directly related to what you do.
  • You have burned bridges or damaged your own reputation either by picking a fight with the favorite employee/suck up boss, behaved in a manner which is deemed untrustworthy, unprofessional or improper.
  • You or your family is stressed out; the environment, hours or anxiety is taking a physical or mental toll.
  • You have experienced a major life change; getting married, having children, losing a spouse – any situation in which your current position no longer supports your personal family needs.

You Have To

Have, according to the dictionary, is defined as being compelled or under obligation; in a job situation this is when there is no light at the end of the tunnel, the worst case scenario is to stay.

  • Your company is going downhill fast – losing clients, not paying its bills, laying off in numbers or needing upper level approval for the most minor of decisions.
  • Your ethics are being challenged; you are asked to lie to clients or coworkers, you see unethical business practices or illegal activity.
  • You are experiencing verbal abuse, bullying or harassment.

The Decision

If your decision is based on a want to list, take the time to make a pros and cons list and give yourself the opportunity to realign with your job or create new opportunities to correct the wants. Make sure you have explored every opportunity available to improve the current situation; this will help ensure that you do not jump into a similar or possible worse situation.

Once you have made a decision to leave, the key factor is time. Do you need to leave immediately or can you wait it out a bit while you look? No matter your timeframe, now is the time to make a plan.

  • Identify what you want to do – is it in the same industry, is it the same position, is it the next position up or is it a whole new direction for your career.
  • Identify what value you have to offer – not what you were hired to do, rather what you did. Who did you work with, how did you work with them, who received value from you doing what you did and what were the results of that value.
  • Create your branding strategy including your resume, networking and LinkedIn.
  • Start networking in your own circle and expanding to include new contacts.
  • Create a no list – these are the job specifics that you do not want included in your next job; having a no list rather than a yes list leaves you open to opportunities you might not have considered before.

Lastly, make sure you create a plan for leaving which includes leaving gracefully including a timeline and an explanation; there is no reason to burn bridges.

Leaving a job can have mental, emotional and financial ramifications. Take the time to evaluate why you want to leave and if there is the opportunity to improve your current position to best prepare for that next adventure: finding the next right job.

How to Follow Up Dead Air After an Interview

Computer FlowersThe interviewer is going to call; you know they are going to call. You rocked that interview and at the end they told you they would call. Any time now, they are going to call.

But they haven’t called.

Now what?

First – do not panic. Take a breath and look at the calendar. How long has it been since your interview? If it has only been a couple of days, relax. If it is before the time they said they would call, give them a chance.

If it is past the time they said they would call – or if they did not say they would call and it is the next week – then set a strategy to follow up.

The feeling of wanting to get back in touch just to find out something can be overwhelming, but before you do, you need a plan.

The essence of the message

The point of following up is to get an answer, but just calling and blurting out, “What is going on?” is not recommended. Preparation and professionalism is the key. We need to set a strategy on how to craft a message. There are several things to keep in mind when crafting your message:

1. Recognize their time is valuable, they are busy and you are not their first priority.
2. Be helpful rather than needy and never be demanding.
3. Keep it short – remembering number 1 above.
4. Keep it professional – you are still being evaluated.
5. Be courteous – thank them for their time.
6. Remind them of an alignment from the interview without rehashing the whole thing – reiterate a point that you two really connected on. (Live phone conversation or email)
7. Let go of the negative – if you feel you did not do well on a question or portion of the interview, do not use this opportunity to try again.
8. Keep it positive – state that you are very interested in the position.

The call

If you were given a phone number, it is acceptable to call. Before you do, have three scripts written:

1. If they answer the phone.
2. If you get a gatekeeper.
3. If you get voicemail.

All too often I had answered the phone only to be told by a prospective employee that they did not anticipate that I would answer. Well, then why did you call? They were all prepared to leave a voicemail but got completely thrown off when I actually answered. This is why you need the three scenario plan, to be prepared for whatever happens on the other end of the line.

Let’s say I interviewed with Todd about a recruiting position, here are some sample scripts:

If Todd answers: “Hi Todd, this is Lisa McDonald. I had interviewed with you last week regarding the recruiting position and I just wanted to touch base to see if there was anything else that you needed from me in order to move forward.”

If I get Todd’s voicemail: “Hi Todd, this is Lisa McDonald. I had interviewed with you last week regarding the recruiting position and I just wanted to touch base to see if there was anything else that you needed from me in order to move forward. I very much enjoyed our meeting and am excited about the opportunity. I can be reached at PHONE or EMAIL at your convenience and I look forward to speaking with you soon”

If I get a gatekeeper: “Hi, my name is Lisa McDonald and I interviewed with Todd last week regarding the recruiting position. I was just checking in to see if there was anything else that he needed from me in order to move forward. I can be reached at PHONE or EMAIL”

When giving your phone and email, speak slowly. Pretend write it as you speak it to make sure you are giving it at a pace that someone can transcribe it. It is very frustrating to get a voicemail and you have to replay it several times to get the number or spelling or have to ask someone to keep repeating themselves.

The email

During the live phone conversation and in an email is when you can reiterate a positive from the interview, it flows more naturally in a conversation and easier to insert in an email.

Emails are intended to be short, not letters or biographies. That is why the same rules apply for a phone call as for an email. This email is not the same as the thank you email you wrote immediately after the interview, you did do that, right? This is a light, just touching base, what can I do, I’m still here and interested communication.

A sample email could be:

Thank you for your time last week regarding the recruiting position. I really enjoyed our conversation about Company’s philosophy and practice during the entire process as it is my exact approach. I very excited about the opportunity and I wanted to touch base to see if there was anything else that you needed from me in order to move forward.

I can be reached at PHONE or this email at your convenience. Thank you again for your time last week, I look forward to speaking with you soon

The what-ifs

Now you have the perfect message and ready for any scenario. You are not ready to call just yet – you need one more plan. The plan for the what-ifs.

What if they filled the position?
What if they blow you off?
What if they give you another time period?
What if they have no answer but still seem receptive?

If they filled the position: Thank them for their time and consideration and request, politely and positively, that they keep you in mind for future opportunities. Ask if you may connect with them on LinkedIn or contact them again in the future if another opportunity arises.

If they blow you off: Do not take it personally, whether they seem gruff on the phone or do not respond at all. Set a time period as to when you will contact again if you do not get a response. Reaching out a few times is fine, but every week for two months is a bit much. Set a limit and stick to it. If they blow you off on the phone, remain calm, polite and professional. If they say something like, “I just don’t have time right now” keep cool and calmly reply, “I understand you are really busy, I will check in with you next week.”

They give you another time period: It may feel like a blow off, but hey, you are still in the game. Thank them again for taking the time to talk to you and let you know and that you look forward to talking to them by the time period they gave you. If it passes without a call, repeat your follow up.

They have no answer but still seem receptive: Still in the game. This is when you can tell them that you know they are very busy and would it be alright for you to follow up with them next week. You can let them know you know they are busy and you do not want to bother them. They may have no issue with you following up, the worse they can say is no.

Final thoughts

Following up is a good thing, but too much of a good thing and you look like a stalker, once a week is fine. As a general rule Mondays are always busy and people are strategizing their week, Fridays they are checking out. Lunch time may be their only downtime or the time they set for meetings.

Whatever the situation or result, remain professional. I know it is frustrating not to get a call or to be put in an endless follow up loop, but keep that frustration to yourself. Do not vent to them, even if they open the door by saying something about how long and frustrating this process is, do not vent to your friends or social media. Keep it cool, cucumber, you are still being auditioned.

If the position is filled, try circling back about a month or so later. Many companies give a probationary period for new employees and by that time they may realize the one they hired is not the one for them. Your timing might just get you back in the door.

Lastly, keep all your doors open. Even if it sounds like a shoe-in, keep open, keep networking and that way if the unexpected happens (they hire someone else, the job falls through) you still keep moving forward.

The Help You Get is Not Always the Help You Need

Luke paintBedrooms were painted this weekend at my house, it was an event in which the whole family participated – which means the humans painted and the dogs got paint all over them.

Bless my little puppies, they really did think they were helping. They wanted to be a part of the process, to not miss a moment of the fun and to share the experience. I highly recommend the color Wicker for a room, just not for a dog; although I do believe Luke wears it well.

Sometimes people think they are helping and they really are just getting your paint everywhere and getting hair stuck to the walls.

There are plenty of articles that will tout that up to 80% of jobs are secured through networking, the numbers vary but this is a pretty common and accepted percentage.

Networking is critical not just in finding the right job, but also in building a connection of influencers, prospects, allies and accountability partners. I am all about networking. I love it, I teach it and I am a great networking wing-man.

As great as networking is and allows for an abundance of opportunities, there are downsides.

Some people do not know how to help you.
Some people do not want to help you, only themselves.

Painting Helper Luke – Do Not Know How

The ones that do not know how to help you have the best of intentions, they really do. They may hear that you are looking for job so they give you a couple of names of hiring managers. Unfortunately, the jobs they are hiring for are just not right for you. The job could require a lot more certification or experience than you have, in an entirely different field than what you do (and you have no desire to change industries) or in a whole other state (one in which you do not care to relocate).

These are the Lukes – very excitable and anxious to help, but not really having a clue what you need. Luke thought he was helping this weekend by being close, he would sit right next to us as we painted and that meant sitting his butt right up against the wall. Luke lacks focus.

How to focus the Lukes – give them details that they can relate to and remember. If you are in purchasing then you need to explain this in a way that resonates with them. Explain what you do in a way that you would to someone that is not in the industry or use an example of how you would do what you do for them or their company. They need to understand to be able to help, and this means they need a little bit of clarity.

Painting Helper Lexi – Do Not Want To

Those that only want to help themselves normally are trying to make themselves look good or they are just going through the networking motions because they see it as a necessary evil. These are the Lexis. She wasn’t so much of a helper as a hindrance. More than once we had to gently ask her to move because she would position herself right where we needed to paint.

I have encountered the “I’m such a connector – I’m awesome, even though it has no value to you” and the “here’s a name just so I can look like I’m contributing although it is not a good contact for you”.

How to eliminate the blocks set up by Lexis – ask why. When someone says you need to call so-and-so ask them why. It is not rude, so do not worry about that. It can simply be asked as, “Thank you for the contact, so why do you think we would be a good connection?”

And it is okay to do follow up questions. If they respond, “Well, she knows everyone!” That sounds good, but no one knows everyone. So a good follow up question would be, “Great! Does she know a lot of people in the XYZ industry/hiring managers/purchasing department etc.?”

Gain as much clarification before you make that call and waste your time and theirs. This happened to me. I once called a woman – just because the person I knew from networking was so enthusiastic that she was wonderful and a great connection for me. When I did call her, bless her, she asked me why I was calling.

I told her I was referred by this guy and she said, “Okay, but why?” I was stumped! I was honest and told her “I have no earthly idea, but thank you so much for taking my call and I apologize for being unprepared and taking up your time.”

Turns out she and I met up again months later at another event and we hit it off. She is now one of my closest friends and a mentor.

It is wonderful and exciting to get leads through networking, just do a little more homework before and after getting the lead to make sure it is a good one and that is worth your time and theirs.

One last word – be sure to reciprocate. Now that you know how to handle the Lukes and Lexis – do not be one. Listen to what people are saying, ask questions to clarify and offer assistance when you can. To give, one must give.

Resumes: Tell Me Your Story, Don’t Sell Me a Line

sales guyI am not a big fan of being sold anything. When it starts to happen, my special BS radar is activated quite quickly. I thank my son for this radar, he helped me fine tune it as a wild teenager. He was a master BS-er.

I can sense pretty quickly when it goes from showing me the value of something and trying to convince me or get me to buy into something. When I was looking at vacuum cleaners, it was sounding off like a siren. The sales person was trying to tell me I needed the fancy-smancy cleaner that had all these bells and whistles for all types of floors.

I have two types of floors: dirty and hairy. I have three dogs. They either shed or bring in the great outdoors. I need a vacuum cleaner that picks up dirt and hair. My floors are hardwood and low pile carpet. Nothing fancy.

But there he was, insisting on fancy-smancy that could navigate from hardwood to carpet in an instant. I don’t need that. My transition is a flight of stairs. I found our conversation sounded a lot like this:

“But it has this great feature” – Sales Guy
“But I don’t need that” – me
“But you might” – Sales Guy
“But I don’t” – me
“But you might in the future” – Sales Guy
“But I don’t now” – me
“But wouldn’t it be nice to have for when you do need it?” – Sales Guy
“No. It would be nice to have three dogs that don’t shed” – me
“Oh, we have another fancy-smancy that has a shedding attachment” – Sales Guy

And so on. I think he made that last part up.

I went to another store and told that Sales Guy about my floors and dogs. He said, “Then all you need is this one, it is on the low end and will do the job for you just fine. Here’s what it does….” Sold!

He told me, not sold me.

The same principle applies for your resume. When people read your resume, their BS meter is up and running and on high alert. Why? Because they have read too many sellers rather than stories, too much fluff and not enough substance.

One of the most common statements I hear when talking to people about their resume is that they do not know how to convey or communicate their value. I will ask them to tell me about a piece of their history and they tell me a story. Then I tell them to use what they just told me.

When you tell your story, including what you did, how you did it, who it helped and how it helped them – that is telling your value based narrative. When you use job description bullet points and unanswered claims – that is selling a story. It does not even sound like you.

The key to a good resume story is including three parts: demonstration, value and you.


Rather than use job description bullet points that tell the reader what you were hired to do, write statements that actually tell what you did. No one cares what you were hired to do, they care about what you did and the value it provided. What did you do and how did you do it?


Not everything is measurable in numbers. Value is added in many ways from creating a more efficient system, training others for them to utilize new technology more quickly, opening communication between departments for collaboration – these are just a few value adds that are not measurable. The value comes in who received benefit from what you did and what the benefit was that they received.


Does your resume sound like you? It should. Just like when you read a book and form an image of the characters based on the words provided, people reading your resume are forming an image of you based on your words. When the resume image and the phone/in person image match this gives them greater confidence to believe what you have said; it gives you credibility. When they do not match, the reader wonders which one you are, and are they going to hire the wrong one.

If you are a behind the scenes kind of guy, do not use outgoing words like dynamic, innovative, driven etc. Use words that are professional and convey your energy and work style. If you are a go-getter kind of gal, then use words that reflect that persona.

Story Telling

One last tidbit on how to write your story – stop trying to write it in resume language! No one talks like that and it is not something that comes naturally for most people. Trying to write your resume each round in resume language is going to stress you out. Stop it.

Instead, have a conversation with yourself and write it out. Get on your computer or laptop or whatever you can type or write the most quickly on and take one piece at a time. Start small to get the ball rolling. Take a bullet point.

● Created workflow diagrams

This on its own screams “so what” – why does the reader care that you created these? It is your job as a storyteller to tell them the importance of this skill and more importantly what value it brings to them.

Under this bullet point start asking yourself some questions to get the ball rolling:

  • What does this mean?
  • Who do I create them for?
  • Why do I create them?
  • Who uses them?
  • What value does it provide for them?
  • How do they utilize them?
  • What is the result of them using the diagrams that I create?

Then type out your answers as though you were talking to a real person, not in resume language. Your answer does not have to be complete sentences or thoughts. Just start typing. Get the feel for it. The more you type the more you will begin to remember and also take yourself out of the forest for the trees syndrome. It can be as long as it takes to type it out, there are no rules here.

Once you get it all down then you can start bringing it together. Maybe you have two paragraphs on one little bullet. Fabulous! Take a look at it and see where it is taking you. If the value is that you help a department become more efficient, than that is the main point, not the creation of workflow diagrams – that is the true value and one that a prospective employer is going to care about because it is something you can do for them.

From there you can start fine tuning and condensing the thoughts into a solid, single bullet point. You may find that one single bullet point will lead to others. For example, you might find that in describing this bullet point you go off on a tangent about collaborating with various departments to analyze their productivity and optimization – this could lead to a whole new value statement.

Do not limit yourself to the confines of your duty based bullet points. You have more to offer than what you were hired to do. Your job with your resume is to convey your value, not tell them what you were hired to do. This can be done by taking your time, exploring what you did, how you did it, who you worked with and how you provided benefit. Once you open the door on one bullet, you will find a whole world of value that you have been hiding – and one that is worth reading.

The Power of the Pause

mouth taped shutWe live in a reactionary world. Immediate responses may improve speed, yet they can damage quality, content and opportunities.

One of the greatest lessons I have learned as a leader, employee, service provider, parent, partner and family member is the power of the pause. One of my greatest teachers was my father.

My dad rarely reacted, only in danger situations. While teaching or listening, he always paused before responding. He took a split second to not only listen to what we said, but to measure and monitor his response. It was a very powerful tool. It also gave us the time to reflect on what we just said – normally realizing that it was probably something we should have re-framed.

Taking a pause before answering a question allows you to do the same – think. It also conveys to your audience that you are listening to their questions with respect to them and your answer.

The dictionary defines respond as to say something in reply; it defines react as to respond or behave in a particular way in response to something.

I have different definitions.

React – to act without thinking, impulse
Respond – to act with thought or purpose

We become conditioned to react, we learn to respond.

One of the problems with reacting is that we condition our audiences on what to expect. It can be a dangerous precedent in reacting. There is normally that one person in an organization that people avoid because they react – immediately and normally in a non-positive way to news. Temper tantrums, flying objects, colorful language, fits – you name it, it is not pleasant. It creates a communication and career barrier.

My son is a react kind of guy. If it pops in his head it comes out of his mouth. He has helped me become a responder. I know how he is, therefore I have learned to modify my responses to him in order to lesson his reaction.

Oh, I am understanding, I am patient, I am kind and it gets old. That is when he started the journey of going from reaction to responding. We are not there yet, but it is a choice and a continual effort. I stopped understanding, being patient and kind and told him that I was not going to hear of it. His reaction impacted me too negatively for me to continue to be the understanding doormat.  Others are doormats for those who react. Things were more difficult for a period until we made the boundaries of respect.

When you respond you respect your audience; when you react you disrespect them.

Another challenge with reacting is that it damages your credibility, accountability and those around you. Lash out in a reaction and saying you are sorry does not take away the event. It lessons it, it is workable, but you have to do much more work to get back to where you were prior to the reaction.

A bit of bad news would send my son in a tizzy. Any future plans were immediately scrapped and the world was ending – right then and there. After calming down, the world was actually the same right place that it always was and a simple sorry was thought to be the magic ticket to erasing the tizzy.

It does not work that way. Reactionary tizzies implode the worlds of everyone involved. They have to take time out of their day to accommodate the tizzy, putting all their priorities aside to make it through the storm. How can your team count on you or believe that you are going to hold it together if you cannot handle a bump in the road?

The client wants to add this aspect to the program – the world is not over, it is called adaption. Figure it out that is what they come to you for – your expertise. Having a complete meltdown and then apologizing a half hour later is not going to instill confidence in your team. It will actually diminish their respect and level of confidence in you.

I am not throwing stones, where do you think my son learned to react? I used to react, and sometimes it just felt good. But I realized the damage it was creating to me, my family, my colleagues and my career. I learned to stop, think, listen and respond. Sometimes a very minimal response is the key to waiting for the reactionary impulse to subside.

When hearing unpleasant news, being confronted or facing a challenge, take a breath. A small count of three to five can be the difference between imploding your career and moving into the next level; between building a bridge and burning that sucker down or allowing the small, unexpected whims of misery change the course of your future.

The Leadership Balance – Stop Giving Yourself Away

leaderI have the absolute joy and pleasure of working with amazing individuals who change the course of companies, industries and employees’ futures through their leadership. They are admired, decisive, respected and the epitome of what future leaders aspire to become.

I have found an interesting correlations about CEOs, CIOs, CFOs, COOs, Directors, Founders and Executives from various industries who are the most influential and impactful leaders; they all have one thing in common: they absolutely stink at talking about themselves.

No kidding.

These professionals can command a boardroom and mesmerize, engage and electrify thousands of employees at company meetings, but asked to talk about themselves – it is a whole different story.

They are humble, but in a horrifyingly dismissive way. There is a time and a place for modesty. When creating a brand strategy or positioning yourself for a new challenge and direction, that is not the time nor the place.

There seems to be an overall preemptive approach that they assume – they do not want to come across as cocky, arrogant, a know-it-all etc.

There is a difference between cocky and confident.

Cocky is telling everyone that you are the best, without verification, proof or demonstration.

Confident is telling people what you do and the value it brings allowing them to make the connection and know you are the best because you have proven yourself through demonstration.

I have the conversation often with executives about presenting themselves without diminishing their value. They give themselves away boosting their teams yet costing them their identity and value.

Not too long ago, I was talking to an executive and I pointed out that he was falling into this trap. He said he never made the connection, even though he recently had an interview in which he boasted about his team and the interviewer replied, with a bit of exasperation – “I’ve heard enough about your team, what did you do?”

Talking with another client, he mentioned that he did not want to appear that he did everything in the company and was fearful that if asked about specifics of lower level positions, he would not be able to answer because he did not do the day-to-day work.

I told him that as a leader, he created the vision and strategy; he drives fruition by putting the right people in place and overseeing the implementation.

As a leader, you are not expected to complete all the day to day tasks, that is what your team is for; you do not even oversee the day to day management of the tasks, that is what your management team is for; you are the leader.

Leader: lead·er ˈlēdər noun: the person who leads or commands a group, organization, or country

Executive: ex·ec·u·tive iɡˈzekyədiv adjective: having the power to put plans, actions, or laws into effect; noun: a person with senior managerial responsibility in a business organization.

“Surround yourself with the best people you can find, delegate authority, and don’t interfere as long as the policy you’ve decided upon is being carried out.” ~ Ronald Reagan

The balance of telling your story as an executive leader is knowing your strengths and your value. Part of your strength is knowing what you do not or do not need to know and what you can delegate, this is when putting the right team in place is important – and that is another value that you add.

“Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.” ~ Jack Welch

Leaders build people. They mentor, they identify and motivate and they do this on a continual basis. They create succession plans for positions, companies and individuals. Leaders give and by giving they grow and create greater value.

“Effective leadership is not about making speeches or being liked; leadership is defined by results not attributes.” ~ Peter Drucker

Leaders know their clients and have a passion for value and profits. To provide greater value, you need greater revenue streams to give more, achieve more and be of greater relevance. They take calculate risks, make hard decisions and know the landscape to turn the clichés of “we can’t do that” or “it’s never been done before” into realities.

It is admirable to want to give credit where credit is due, and yes, it should be done; however, not at the expense of your value as a leader.

One executive that I coached told me he knew what he was good at and he knows what he is doing. When I asked him why he is not telling that story, he told me it sounded like bragging. I told him two things:

1. If you tell the story of what you do, how you do it and the value that is received then you are not bragging, you are simply stating facts.
2. If you do not tell your story, who will?

The leadership balance is between complete modesty by giving away or diminishing your value and stating you are the be-all-end-all without demonstrated substantive evidence. Meet yourself in the middle to remain true to yourself and position yourself as the leader that you are and that people want leading their company and their teams.


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

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