I Prefer Windows to Doors

open windowMy dad was an amazing man and a huge influence on who I am today. Of course there are some traits that he cultivated that, if he were here to see them in action, I am sure he would be doing a mental face palm. Not like I didn’t see enough eye rolling or hear enough sighing growing up.

Now, don’t go feeling all sorry for my dad, he also had a wicked sense of humor. Like the time he gave me a black spiced jelly and after I put it in my mouth said, “Isn’t that the worst thing you ever tasted?”

Or the time we were on a fishing trip and he told me that the little round things in the tapioca pudding were fish eyes. He ruined that for me for good.

I did get my dad’s sense of humor and my son has suffered for it. When he was in elementary school my son got in trouble for a “food fight”, he threw a piece of cheese at another student. He also lost a tooth that day and put it under his pillow that evening for the tooth fairy.

The next morning he woke up and excitedly looked under his pillow only to find a piece of cheese. He looked at me with the same face I am sure I gave my dad about the tapioca/fish eyes thing and I told him, “The tooth fairy heard you had a thing for cheese, especially throwing it at school.”

I’m not that mean, there was money there, just further back.

But there were times that I got the combined look of “what the heck” and “I’m kinda proud of that” from my dad. Like the time we talked about house keys.

Well after the house I grew up in was sold, we were talking about if we still had our house keys. I told him that I hadn’t had one for years. This shocked him because we grew up as what would be called latchkey kids, so how did I get in the house?

I pried open the basement window with a screwdriver I had buried in the flowerbed.

I specifically remember the pause in the conversation and that “what the proud” look on his face. I looked back and said, “What, you created me.”

And he did. He and my mom created several foundations within me. This one was there is a solution to every problem. It may not be typical or “normal”, but sometimes creativity is exactly what is needed.

All though junior high and high school I basically broke into my own home, hey, it worked. Does that count as breaking in since I lived there? I think not, I just called it an alternative entrance due to a locked door.

In your career, you will encounter seemingly locked doors. A promotion you want, a new job you desire, having to find another job after losing your current one, additional learning/educational opportunities –doors you want to go through, but seemingly do not know how to unlock it.

Walking through these doors will give you access to a whole structure; rooms filled with floors, walls, furniture, electricity – and windows. Stop banging your head on the door and take a step back – you can see the windows.

These windows may be represented by networking, volunteering, part time jobs, speaking up asking for what you want, taking your work to the next level. The one thing they all have in common is this: they are there waiting for you to discover them, you just have to get off your rear-end and do it.

Just because you see only one path as a solution to a problem does not mean that is the only path. Too often we get so focused on the problem that we get tunnel vision and do not allow ourselves to see possible solutions. When that one solution seems impossible, we want to throw our hands in the air and declare it is impossible. Done deal, never going to happen; poor me, I have no control or ability to do anything about this.

Several years ago I was a part of an organization and I was at the point of frustration, I just did not feel that I was getting anything out of it. I realized that I was attending, but not participating. So I set a timeline and made a deal with myself. I would go through the window of volunteering on committees and give it a certain amount of time for me to gauge ROI.

I joined three different committees; I was a little go getter. My logical mind thought that the ROI would be more business. Boy was I wrong. The ROI I received was expanding my network to befriend some amazing women. Today these women are my friends, mentors, cohorts and inspirations.

If I had not gone through that window my business would not be what it is today, nor would I as a person.

I also met many women and was able to lead by example and assist them in becoming more active in the organization, which provided value to them and their businesses.

The other benefit of going through a window is you can get inside then open the door for someone else; remember, the best way to get is giving to others.

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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 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.

Don’t Let the Bunnies Force You Out of Your Job

bunniesMy dogs have a strange fascination with bunnies. Beyond strange, more like obsessive.

They sit at the window and watch, for hours, for any sign of a bunny. When one is spotted or a trail is picked up in the yard, they go into high alert. This consists of strange noises and the doggie equivalent of bouncing off the walls. It goes from peaceful silence to complete chaos in two seconds flat.

So imagine my surprise when I took the boys on individual walks yesterday and bunnies were in the vicinity but there was no chaos. No barking, no whining, no chasing – not even a twitch! How is this possible? How can those furry little things turn my sweet, loving crew into crazy, possessed pups in one situation and not the other?

It is the environment. On their turf, bunnies are the devil reincarnate. Outside of their turf, they do not even appear on their radar.

Our environment guides us in how we judge an issue. If you are at the point of hating your job and ready to find something new, ask yourself why. What are the bunnies that are getting to you right now?

Why do these bunnies bother you? What about them – is it a task, a person, a situation, a long commute, too much travel, a process, an inability to grow in your position? Figure out the bunny and the underlying issue with it.

Here is a curious thing. When I work with clients, they tell me why they want to leave their current job. They have identified their bunnies and the reasons why.

Then they see other job opportunities that they are interested in and get really excited. The thing is, the bunnies are listed in the job description. Right there in plain sight! But in that situation the bunnies do not matter so much.

So going back to the original list of bunnies and reasons why, it may very well turn out that it is not bunnies at all. Because you don’t notice the bunnies outside your normal environment. This is when you want to go back and re-evaluate your list on why you want to leave.

This is important because if you get an interview for that new, exciting job and you list out the reasons for leaving as the bunnies, but they are the same bunnies where you are going, odds are the interviewer is not going to think you are a good fit.

Maybe it is not the bunnies, perhaps it is you.

Have you outgrown the position, company, environment, team, city – whatever it is, there is something in you that wants a change because of a bigger pull than a bunny. When I took the boys on a walk yesterday, I diverted their attention when there was a bunny in the vicinity. I steered them to a bush to smell or mark, talked to them to distract them – anything for them not to see the bunny.

They were so happy to be interacting in a bigger capacity – outside the walls of their home or fenced in yard, that those cute little furry creatures were no longer a concern. That was the whole thing that made them happy – to be a part of something bigger.

If you are in a situation where you are not able to leave, take a look at those bunnies again. Are they really that destructive? Is it possible that you could find a bigger environment to enjoy where you are now to minimize the bunnies until you are in a better position to leave?

There are times that one of those furry little creatures is sitting right outside the window driving my crew crazy – and yes, I think they do it on purpose. I simply go outside and walk towards it, giving it gentle persuasion to go away. When I comeback in, all is calm again.

We have the power to rid the bunnies from our environment to a degree, do not let them drive you up a wall to leave one yard to jump into the very same yard but with different landscape. Do not let the bunnies hurt your job.

Take a walk around your job; look at it from a new perspective. If you were new and just hired, would these bunnies really matter? Are there other opportunities for you to explore that you had not seen before? Give yourself a chance to recreate yourself in your own environment. Often the things we want are right there in front of us, just hidden behind the bunnies.

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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 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.

5 Blunders That Could Ruin Your Interview

Head SlapOne of the biggest frustrations of interviewing, right after not getting the job, is not being told why you did not get the job.

It is a competitive market with a lot of quality candidates out there. However, what could have cost you the job are some simple mistakes that you yourself made.

From the moment you release your resume you are on stage. Everything you do from here on out with regards to the job is being watched and judged. Slack in one area and the curtain closes.

They Like Me

We like to be liked; I believe it is human nature. During an interview we really want the interviewer to like us. The problem in this is when being liked and or being likable trump being relevant. When you spend more time trying to be their buddy rather than demonstrate your value in the position, your experience, skill sets, expertise and being the solution to their problem.

Yes, you want to build a rapport and demonstrate that you are the right fit both in terms of qualifications for the position as well as within their culture.

Always Pick Multiple Choice Answer C

I remember hearing that when in doubt on a multiple choice question, you should always choose answer C if you do not know the answer. I am not sure who came up with this advice and I never saw the wisdom in it.

You might be asked a question and you immediately see more than one way to answer it. It is a mistake to assume you know the intention of the interviewer. Ask. Simply ask the interviewer if they are looking at the situation from perspective A or perspective B. The interviewer might not be aware that there is more than one possible viewpoint. This demonstrates thoughtfulness in your answer and an expanded view on the topic.

Not Even In the Same Ballpark

It is great to prepare for an interview and have examples to answer the “tell me about a time…” question. The problem comes when we have memorized those stories and relay them when they are not relevant to the actual question being asked.

Relevancy comes from addressing issues related to the position, industry, company and situation. You must demonstrate that you get their need and you can solve their problem. Do not leave them to try to connect the dots – show them so they can walk out of that room saying, “That’s our person!”

Unlike the financial industry, in the career industry past success is an indicator of future success.

It Is Assumed

Several recruiters, hiring managers and human resource personnel have told me that an interview could have gone well, but they never followed up because at the end of the interview the candidate never expressed that they were still interested or wanted the job.

Do Not Assume. Just because you showed up and answered the questions does not automatically equate to you still wanting the job. Your silence could leave the interviewer wondering if you did not like what you heard but you are being too polite to tell them you are no longer interested.

Speak up. At the end of the interview reiterate that you believe this is a good fit and are very excited to join their team.

Dead Air

You showed up early, were completely prepared, aced the interview and closed strongly with an “I really want this job” – yep, you have got it in the bag.

Nope, not so fast – your work is not done.

You are not done with the “I want the job”, that is your face to face closing but not the end.

Follow up with a professionally worded ‘thank you for your time’ correspondence. Be sure to highlight the strengths and positives from the interview. Thank them for their time and re-iterate your interest and excitement for the position.

This will reinforce all the positives that you have and give you an additional edge. Surprisingly many hiring managers will keep those follow up correspondence to put in your personnel file because it demonstrated a positive quality about you.

You should arrive early, be prepared, look the part – all the traditional wisdom for interviewing; however, you also need to pay attention to the details along the way. As the sayings go – the devil is in the details and it only takes one pebble to start an avalanche.

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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 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.

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.

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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 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:

Authenticity

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?

Accountability

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?

Character

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?

Adaptability

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?

Competency

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.

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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 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.

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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 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:

“Todd,
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
Lisa”

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.

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