For Crying Outloud Don’t Tell Me You are in Sales

Do you know the quickest way to alienate or mislead prospects and potential contacts?

You might be doing it every time you network.

How do you answer the questions, “What do you do?”

If you answer with a title, you are alienating or misleading.

A title in this situation is either a name for your position or a generalized scope of field.

“I’m a manager”
“I’m in sales”
“I’m in communications”

Say any of these and your inroads to beginning a relationship are pretty much over, conversation dead before it started.

You did not answer the question – what do you do?

You have randomly and generically assigned no meaning to your value whatsoever.  People are looking for a way to escape your vicinity.

Titles are meaningless

More often than not, titles do not convey an accurate portrayal of your position and value.  There are exceptions, of course.  If you are a Pediatric Oncologist that pretty much sums it up.  There are also those who are very elevated within their industry or career that they use a simple title to underplay themselves because their reputation precedes them.

But for the vast majority of us – titles stink.  Not only do the not reflect who you are; they also allow the other party to assign your value based on their own personal experience.

Poor insurance agents, they have such a bad rap.  People normally assimilate them with never ending phone calls, follow up emails and endless conversations about term life insurance – snore.  I worked in the financial industry in brokerage, banking and insurance and have yet to meet an insurance agent who truly wants to talk my ear off about term life insurance.  But the negative reputation precedes them.

There are a few out there that do fall into the stereotype, as well as unfortunate souls who have been party to their badgering and mind-numbing conversations.

If you are an insurance agent who happens to come across one of those unfortunate souls and you introduce yourself by your title, you have just allowed them in less than 2 seconds to immediately categorize you as the same as that other agent.

Do not think you are going to talk your way out of it to change their mind about you.  They have already assigned a value to you and will not be listening to how you are not that person, they do not care.

In telling the other party that you are “in sales” they will most likely translate that into “I’m going to try to sell you something right now!”  Why?  Because there must be some unwritten law that, as consumers, we much be subjected to the pushy sales person at least once in our lifetime.  It is never a pleasant experience and one we are not likely to forget.  That is the impression that stays with us, despite hundreds of interactions with solution-based, customer centric sales professionals.

Manager – what does that mean?  I have had managers who were awesome, mentoring leaders who cared about their team.  I have also had managers that didn’t give diddly-squat about anyone but themselves.  Which one are you?  Giving me just the title allows me to assign that perception to you.

It is not what you are called, it is what you do

Instead of using a title, try introducing yourself as the value you provide to your clients or company.

A friend of mine attended a talk I gave about networking and elevator pitches, which is in line with what I am saying in this blog.  He is an insurance rep.  I know, stop cringing.

After the talk he took time to think about the value he provides to his client.  He asked himself why do his clients work with him, what are their goals and what does he help them achieve.  He then assigned a new way to introduce himself and tested it at his next networking event.

When asked what he did, he responded, “I am a retirement coach.”  It is an anti-title because it is an unusual title that prompts a question.

The question is key.  You want that type of response, it means they were listening and have opened the door for you to paint your picture the way you want and engage them.  Just a word of caution: don’t get too cutesy, it will have the reverse effect.  If you assign a title that is so outrageous or cutesy people will assign it no value and not care to ask what that means.

It is not a matter of time

I am not a big fan of the two minute rule.  Coming up with two minutes to describe yourself equates to me two mind numbing minutes that I will never recover.  Do you realize most people stop listening after about 15 seconds, if you are lucky?

I love going to networking events where everyone has a very lovely, down pat 2 minute speech and when it is my turn I use all of five seconds.  The looks on the faces is awesome.

Short and sweet.  If you blurt out everything in two minutes what have you possibly left for them to ask you?  You have told them everything.  They will probably smile and nod politely and might even add a non-committal remark like “that’s nice”.  Conversation is one way and over.

Turn it around

Engage them, evoke a feeling, connect with a problem, use humor – be human!  You want to build relationships and that means connecting on some level.

An excellent way to engage another person is to make it about them.  Once you give your value – and they ask you a question – turn it on them.  Use them as an example, ask them a question to frame your response in a way that is meaningful to them.

When asked to expand, someone in sales (ick – I know) may ask, “do you have enough clients?” Other options could be starting a question with: do you find, have you ever, what is X like (some component of their business), what is your biggest frustration with, don’t you hate when and so on.

I have two segments of clients that I work with: those looking to move in, on or up in their careers and those in some form of sales.  I cannot assess which category a person is in by looking at them, or even hearing their title.  Someone may be in sales and be secretly looking to change jobs, industries or careers.

After receiving a question to my introduction, I might say, “let me use you for an example; if you love your job but are still struggling with building a solid book of business this is how I would help.” Then end with “…and if you hate your job, I am there to help you find and get the one you love.”

I say might because I do not have a down-pat response.  I have a good idea of what I want to say but never memorize it.  I want it to be fresh, relevant and real to the person I am talking to, therefore I vary it every time.

Now in following these tips, you might just find that you are the center of attention in the conversation.  That’s nice, but do not let it continue.  Bring it back to them.  Ask them questions about what they said, what they like about what they do, about their clients, markets, industry or company.  Give them genuine attention.

One of my favorite quotes is by John Wooden, “Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.”

Your title is your reputation, your value is your character.

Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Brand Strategist & Career Coach

Certified Professional Resume Writer

It is Your Story, Stop Letting Others Define It

dead end signI am not a fan of titles.  Often times they are misleading, meaningless or misunderstood.

Often they give a false sense of security, importance, expertise and value.

One of my favorite examples is a scene from the West Wing, one of my all-time favorite shows, in which President Bartlet meets a radio talk show host, Dr. Jacobs.  In the beginning of the scene, he asks if she is an MD, she replies she has a PhD.  He asked if it is Theology, Psychology or Social Work; nope, it is in English Literature.

He tells her that he asks because people call in to her show for advice she goes by name Dr. Jacobs and wondered if her listeners were confused by that and assumed she had advanced training in Theology, Psychology or HealthCare.

That scene never gets old.  Of course, Sam taking her crab puff at the end was the cherry on top.

Back to my point and to bring us to today’s topic: standing behind a title alone does not convey your value just as using vague or generic terms does not convey your value.

Examples of titles and general words include Sales Representative, Manager, manage and support.

What you are actually doing when you use these words or title is allowing the reader or listener to assign value to you based on their own experiences and understanding.

I had Managers in the past who were great mentors, they rolled up their sleeves and pitched in and they made sure we all understood our role and the greater mission.  I also had Managers that barely spoke to the team and told us to just get it done, went in their office and shut the door.  If you are a Manager, which one are you?  If you do not tell me then you are allowing me to assign your value based on my experience.  What if I have only experienced terrible Managers?  Then your value is significantly decreased based on my own interpretation.

Using non-descript words in your resume to define your duties follows the same principle.

If you state that you ‘supported a group of clients to receive the tools needed to achieve their goals’, what are you really telling me?  My concept of support may be vastly different from yours.  Do not assume I know what you mean.  It is your story, tell me the important points in the way you want me to interpret and understand them.

What does support mean?  How did you support them?  How active was your role, what were your contributions and what value did you bring to the venture?  As a side note, I would also ask if the clients achieve their goals or just got the tools they needed.

I am not advocating eliminating words such as manage and support.  Instead, use them in describing and demonstrating your value rather than detail your duties.


Lisa K McDonald, CPRW

Brand Strategist & Career Coach

Certified Professional Resume Writer


Getting Over the Networking Blues of “I’m Just Not Good at It”

I attended a networking breakfast this morning.  It was the speed dating style where everyone was assigned three separate tables and each person was given two minutes to introduce themselves to the rest of the table.


I have never taken two minutes to give my “speech”.  For this fact, most people are ok with me at their table.  I professionally coach people on networking and their networking “speeches”.  For this fact, most people are nervous or uncomfortable about having me at their table.


This morning at my second table a friend I have known for a few years was at my table.  He attended a networking event where I was the speaker and spoke to elevator pitches.  He subsequently changed his and used the same premise today.  He told me that he still uses it because it really works.


When we went through the roundtable he made mention to the table that this is what I do.  Everyone smiled politely but I could see a couple wheels turning.  When people recognize that this is what I help my clients do they tend to look only at me when they give their speech unconsciously looking for encouragement or some indication that they are doing it “right”.


Relax guys, I’m just enjoying meeting new people and drinking my orange juice.


Someone came up to me and confided that they didn’t feel that they were very good at these types of things.  I get that from a personal perspective.  It can be uncomfortable holding  court and telling people about yourself, feeling like you are selling yourself.


On a professional side, the coach in me wants to say, “Suck it up cupcake, you are in business, people need to know who you are.” 


But here is the thing – stop doing it in a way that seems uncomfortable.  You can put together the most polished three sentence, 45 second speech that could ever be conceived; however, if it makes you uncomfortable it is worthless.


Your body language gives it away.  I can’t hear your message because I am being overwhelmed with the non-verbal message of “I hate this” or “I am uncomfortable” or worse yet “This really isn’t me”.


If you don’t want to sound like a walking billboard then stop it.


If you don’t want to sound like a tag line then stop it.


If you don’t want to sound like something you are not then stop it.


Start being yourself.  Add your humor, your spin on it that comes naturally for you.  That tag line or title does not convey who you are and what you do.  The way to do this is to be genuine and speak to the value you provide to your clients.


There was a financial planner at one table and his opening line was “I get to play with people’s money.”  Well, that got a few chuckles and smiles.  It wasn’t exactly accurate but it broke the ice, it put people at ease and he was completely comfortable.


The first rule in networking is to relax.  This is not a make or break you thing.  This is a way to meet new people.  If you were trying to meet people on a personal level you would know immediately if they were presenting themselves as something they are not.


Same holds true.  Relax and be yourself.  Keep it clean, but be yourself.  Yes, I do have to add that little note.  Stop dreading your turn and have fun with it.


If you don’t like having the spot light all to yourself, focus it on the others at the table.  Our last table was moving along quite quickly and not a lot of interaction.  So the second to last person was saying that they help businesses save up to 25-30% and it is not chump change. 


The previous participants included someone creating scholarships for high school kids, a small business banker, a rental car representative, a technology firm helping with websites and seo and the financial planner.


After the gentleman said the savings part I piped up and said, “With that money saved your clients can talk to him for to set up the right small business banking, do personal planning with him, hire her to firm up their website and with the remaining amount create a scholarship.”


It broke the ice, allowed everyone to relax and be a bit of a little group.  Conversation was increased after that.  Note – I did not say one thing about me in that scenario.  Networking isn’t about you, it is about the people in front of you.


Let people see who you are, not your representation of a title, and they will be more drawn to you and pay more attention to what you have to say which will translate to more communication, beginning of relationships and mutually beneficial business relationships.


Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Certified Professional Resume Writer

Brand Strategist & Career Coach


7 Tips to Personalizing Your LinkedIn Profile

linkedin I see a lot of, well, let’s just say, not so great LinkedIn profiles.  I have come to realize that most people do not dread writing their LinkedIn profile, they are afraid of it.


The reason for the fear is the quality that LinkedIn offers: the ability to bring your personality to your profession.


Most people hate writing about themselves, it is uncomfortable.  This fact alone has me on the phone talking to people every day.  Add to that the fear of sounding pompous, ridiculous or unknowledgeable takes that uncomfortableness to a whole new level; to fear.


I like to say that LinkedIn is the business Facebook to try to plant the seed of the personal touch.  This does not mean anyone wants to get updates on what you had for every meal of the day or pictures of the kiddos eating asparagus for the first time.  Remember – it is about business.


When you are writing your LinkedIn profile you are in essence having a conversation with the one person reading your profile.  This is how it differs from a resume or business biography.  Those two things are written with a general audience in mind, but with the reality that you never really know who is going to read it.


Your LinkedIn profile should be more strategic.  You want to target your audience so they can find you and then speak to them so you can engage them.


Here are a few tips to help write your profile:


  1. Figure out your audience.  How can you speak to someone if you have not identified who it is you want to talk to?  What is important to them, what are key words or phrases they will resonate with or searching for, what are their needs and how do you provide the solutions?


  1. Speak in the first person.  When you write in the third person you run the risk of sounding aloof, disconnected or pompous.  I dated a guy once that would speak about himself in third person whenever we had a disagreement, saying things like: “Thor is not happy.”   To which I would reply, “I don’t know who Thor is or why he is unhappy, but I’m talking to you.”  He sounded ridiculous, don’t be a Thor. And no, I never dated anyone named Thor, I changed his name – you get the point.


  1. Communicate your value.  What is it you want people to know about you?  It is your job to tell them.  You only have 2,000 characters to paint that picture – use it wisely.  This is your story; you can tell it any way that you want.  You are not required to give the mundane details.


  1. Be creative but easy on the cute.  This is your opportunity to let your personality shine through; let it – to a degree.  Keep it within the professional level.  Being too cutesy puts you back into Facebook range.  This also applies to your profile picture.  Business casual, not Facebook spectacular.


  1. Keep it positive.  I mentioned above that you do not need to give the mundane details; I am going to take a step further and let you know that it is bad form to air the negative details as well.  No airing of dirty laundry.  Not even an implication.  If you were unjustly released from your last position keep it to yourself.  This is not the time or place to go into that.


  1. Not necessarily a call to action. I have written LinkedIn profiles for leadership of organizations that were used to highlight the company and themselves as a leader for recruiting purposes.  I have also written them for high level producers setting the bar for their organization.  In either of these instances we did not use a call to action at the end, i.e., “connect with me today, email or call me at…”  By being engaging and well thought in your message it will be implied that you are open to communication.  I have read articles where it has been suggested that you must put a call to action at the end of your profile.  I disagree.  If it is not comfortable with your message, then do not do it.  It is your profile, break the rules.


  1. Break the rules.  I had to add this because I liked it in the last point.  You have 2,000 characters for your profile, but guess what – you do not have to use all of them.  You have a designated area for a title, but guess what; you do not have to put only your title.  You can be creative.  For one client, who is the head of all the marketing for her organization we also added “Social Media Geek” at the end of hers.  She is fun; she allowed fun in her title and profile.  Break the rules, live a little.


Using these seven suggestions will help put you on the right path to create the right message: one that is about you, your value and speaking to the audience you want to engage.


Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Certified Professional Resume Writer

Career Coach & Brand Strategist


Do You Lead or Check Boxes?


One of my paramount fundamentals in working with clients is expressing their value.


It is not enough to tell people that you have a skill set, been in your industry x number of years or have a certain title – what matters is the value you bring.


Imagine two candidates both with similar experience and skill sets.  Imagine having a meeting, whether it is a interview or client meeting and you ask them (or think of when reading their resume/LinkedIn/bio): “Tell me about working at XYZ Company.”


Candidate A responds: “I’m a manager there overseeing a team of five and work with clients in managing their financial assets.”


Candidate B responds: “I partner with, mentor and lead a team of five in bringing information, security and planning to our clients in all aspects of their finances from identifying their needs and goals, researching options, opportunities and challenges to strategically planning out short term and long term plans, goals and action steps.  We then maintain constant communication within the team and with our clients to ensure we hit our marks and have earned a great reputation of success and trust which merited 65% of all our new clients are referrals from current clients.”


Candidate A basically told you their title, but nothing else.


Candidate B told not only told you they are a manager but gave you insight as to how they manage their people and their clients.  They expressed their value: a mentor and team leader to their team; focused and dedicated to their clients and gave me some proof in the pudding.


Your value sets you apart from everyone else, it gets you noticed and bottom line – it gets you hired.


You need to answer the question of value before they ask.  If Candidate A told me that I would pretty much be done with the conversation.  They did not bring anything to the table enough to peak my interest to ask them more.  Remember, you want my business or for me to hire you – it is your job to excite me about you as a candidate; not for me to dig it out of you.


If I was speaking to Candidate B I would definitely want to ask more.  They sold themselves without being cocky or expecting me to be able to read between the lines.


It is the natural mindset of an interviewer – no matter a potential boss or client – to be skeptical.  The example I give my clients is if you are in sales and state that you were second in the district the immediate internal thought by the potential boss/client is “what, out of three?”


They are bombarded with candidates and so many candidates misrepresent themselves that it is no wonder that the potentials are skeptical.  They are overwhelmed.  The last thing you want them to do is think, because they more than likely take it to a negative place.  Sell your value not your title.


You might notice Candidate B’s answer is quite a bit longer without trying to infuse hot key words.  Also, it would be very easy to assume Candidate A is a box checker and Candidate B is a leader.   He/she didn’t say it – they demonstrated it.


There are two reasons why you do not communicate your value: either you don’t know how or you don’t add any.


No value: starting with a title and ending with duties.


Value: Start with the result of what you do and work backward.  How do people benefit from what you do leads to how you do it.  That is how you express your value.


If you are still struggling on how to identify and express your value I just happen to know someone that can help you with that… me!


Ok, shameless little plug, sorry.



Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Career Coach-Strategist

Certified Professional Resume Writer

Career Polish, Inc.


Lose the Title; Gain the Value

One of the most devastating aspects of job searching is the loss of identity.


Whether you quit, got laid off or were fired it is easy to feel that your identity has been surgically removed from your physical body without the use of anesthetic, warning or sharp instruments.


It is painful, lingering and debilitating.


That is what you did, that is how you presented yourself to the world, that is what defined you and now it is gone.




That was a title.


Let me make it clear: in my world you are only allowed one set of titles: mother, father, daughter, son, aunt, uncle, sister, brother, grandmother, grandfather, cousin….see where I am going here?


What you did for that company is not determined by your title.  It is determined by the value you gave and that you still have to give to someone else.


My name is Lisa McDonald and I am a mother, aunt, daughter, niece and cousin.  If you want to put any other titles on me, here are a few you can choose from:


  • Step-mom still there for three amazing kids even though I am not legally a part of their family any more (you loose the spouse, not the kids)
  • Adopted-mom to a bunch of terrific boys that grew up with my son; part of their childhood they grew up in my house, ate dinners at my table, asked the most outrageous questions and received unconditional love
  • Dog wrangler to a pack of four wonderful furry children who bring me joy every day and quite frankly I would rather hang out with other than people some days
  • Coach to the best clients a person could ever ask for; even though I am there to give personal advice, tools and guidance I receive so much more from them in allowing me to be a brief part of their life and journeys
  • Storyteller bridging people’s past to their future and allowing them to rediscover the value in themselves and take control of their situations, emotion and lives again.
  • Best friend grateful to be called such by the most amazing person I know; honored to share in so many journeys, adventures, trials and tribulations knowing no matter what she is my person
  • Directionally illiterate, yes, even with modern day inventions of GPS and Tom Tom I can still manage to get lost – it’s a talent
  • Music lover often getting lost in great appreciation for the ability to immerse myself in the feel of music
  • Dork, no proud dork, often having to be explain the punch line or instructions and generally okay with having to explain myself after seeing the very confused look on my family and friend’s faces


That is who I am.


Not a former Compliance Officer, Manager, Recruiter blah blah blah.


I don’t introduce myself as a Professional Resume Writer and Career Coach, I introduce myself as the person that helps people get from where they are to where they want to be in their job searching or business.


I am value – not a title.


This week and weekend as we celebrate the glory and independence of our freedom take a moment to celebrate your own glory that is your value.


For that is the true measure of who you are – not some stupid title.



Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW


Don’t Let A Title Freak You Out

Man holding roseSo today is Valentines Day: the day that freaks men and women out all across the world.


“What should I get, should I get anything, what will it mean, what if I don’t have a valentine, I’m going to publicly denounce valentines day because I’m single, I’m going to post eewy-gooey pictures of me and my significant other in various stages of kissing to show the world how much I love them on Valentines Day….”


Facebook is a never ending source of entertainment….


The way I look at it – it is the day before all the chocolate goes on sale and the day before my dad’s birthday.  I’ve never been a big Valentines Day girl even when I was married or in a serious relationship.  Of course I’m also the kind of girl that doesn’t want flowers as an apology.


Because today is a day that is titled it freaks people out.


Why – because with a title there are built-in assumptions.


Most of these assumptions are in our own head and so we make it worse for ourselves.  Although I will admit – Hallmark is not helping guys out on this day.


If I take this title then I am going to have to take on all this responsibility and I don’t know if I am ready or if I can pull it off.




If you are offered a title it is because it is a fit – you can do it and you can succeed and someone believes in you or they would not have offered it to you.


Taking on a title does not mean that the world is going to change for you.  I’ve talked to many a client who have, in the course of their career, taken on “bigger” titles but said in all honesty nothing changed.


Look at the situation, what it has to offer, what you want out of it and if any changes are expected.  Do not assume.


If you have a meeting scheduled with someone with a bigger title – remember, they are still a person.  Get past the title to the point of the meeting.  You are there to offer value so what can you bring to the table and what do they have to offer?  What can you learn from them?


I coach my clients when networking to NOT introduce themselves by their title because it is worthless.  Rarely does a title really give a clear understanding to the value that you have to offer.


When you start feeling your heart race over hearing a title take a minute to stop and breathe.  Think about what is behind the title and if there are any assumptions that you are making without facts.


Look behind the curtain and you may see the title is merely a giant wall masking a diminutive figure which has no affect on your value whatsoever.



Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Career Coach-Strategist

Certified Professional Resume Writer

Career Polish, Inc.


You’re Not “Just” An Anything

I was fortunate to grow up in a family that ran the gambit of social, economic and professional boundaries.  My dad was a diesel mechanic, my mom head of payroll, a grandmother who started her own business and traveled the world, an uncle who was a cook in a prison, another who leads one of the top accounting firms in the state, stay at home aunt, another who was lab assistant in a hospital, a brother who traded money on the Chicago Board of Exchange but hated it so went back to bartending and cousins who range from attorney to construction worker.


I say fortunate because I never knew any of them as titles or ever thought to judge them for what they did for a living.  My family includes democrats, republicans, gay, straight, all colors of the rainbow, rich, poor, happy and disturbed yet no matter what they are or do I simply know them as family.


There are some that continually refer to themselves as “just” this or “just” that immediately and definitely devaluing what they do and themselves.


Knock it off.


Not everyone wants to be the CEO of a company and not everyone is cut out to be the CEO.  It takes a lot of clerks to run a court and each one is important.   I was talking to a friend of a friend the other day and he was being very sheepish about what he did and he finally said, “I’m just a server.”  Apparently he was embarrassed because he is in his 30s and feels this is a disgrace.


I told him I thought it was great because I know it’s one of the hardest jobs there is and I loved working in a restaurant.  Once he saw I didn’t look down upon him for this he immediately lightened up.  I’m not one to judge someone for what they do for a living, it’s not how I was raised.  Unless you’re a professional hit man, then I have a problem with that.


Do not put a “just” in front of your title as a way to apologize to anyone for what you do.  If you are providing for your family, take care of your responsibilities and do right by yourself and others than you are alright in my book.  Screw what anyone else thinks – it is not their life.


Others may accept this implied apology but I don’t; and I know plenty of others that do not as well.  Another thing you do when you put that “just” in front of your title is make us feel uncomfortable.


When someone introduces themselves as “just” something it immediately puts up a stop sign for any further communication about that topic.  So now what can we discuss because we are now right in the thick of an awkward moment –thank you very much.


I love what I do, I am fortunate, I know.  I also took a very long, difficult and crazy road to get where I am – I’ve worked my tail off to get where I am and where I am going.  But guess what, I’m the same girl that worked behind the counter at Dairy Queen serving Blizzards upside down, worked in a vets office sitting on the floor brushing out a dog while it rested it’s head on mine, the secretary at a law firm convincing my 86 year old boss that a computer is really better than a typewriter….


I was and am never just anything other than myself.



Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Career Coach-Strategist

Certified Professional Resume Writer

Career Polish, Inc.

But This Is All I Know

We are a world of boxes; we quickly create our own little boxes and find comfort so we never expand beyond those lines.  Comfort does not always equate to happiness, it may be simply a matter of familiarity.  “It’s not great, but it’s not that bad” is a clue that you are not happy, you are comfortable; perhaps comfortable in misery.


Part of my job is to help my clients, workshop attendees or those present at speaking engagements to get out of their own heads and boxes.   If you made the box you can break it down and create whatever shape you choose to surround yourself in.  I’m more of a wavy line kinda girl myself.


So often I will talk to a client who has worked in a certain position or industry for an extended period of time and have assumed this job/industry as part of their identity.  A big clue to this line of thinking is when you hear someone introduce themselves as a specific job title; i.e. “I’m a Banker”, “I’m a Compliance Officer”, “I’m a Secretary” etc.


First and foremost you are not a title – I’ve said it thousands of times before and I will continue to do so.  The only title I assume is Mother, Daughter, Sister, Aunt, Niece or Cousin.  Only family related and my most prized title is Mother.  No matter what I do in my lifetime first, last and always I am Jake’s mom.


So how do you break beyond those walls to re-create your shape?  The first thing is to start asking, and answering, some questions.  Start with the biggie: what do you do?  And let me just say – I do not care what your job is, you add value.  You do not just perform a task, you add value.  Remember this, refer back to it and remind yourself as you go through your questions.


Let’s look at two different positions to see how they can identify their value to move beyond where they are to where they want to go: a Business Banker and a Delivery Driver.


At first blush in answering the “what do you do” question they could answer, respectively:


“I help businesses with their banking needs” and

“I deliver packages to people”


But is that all they do? NO!


The banker must build a relationship with their clients to gain their trust to gain full access to their entire business picture; they must compile an immense amount of information; they analyze all the data and factors; they must utilize business savvy to see the current and future picture; they must learn their client’s business landscape to fully understand the goals; they create plans with actionable items in order for their clients to make informed decisions; they help them identify their current goals and long term objectives.


The delivery driver must adhere to a strict schedule and utilize time management and problem solving skills when challenges arise; they must utilize prioritization skills to make immediate adjustments in order to fulfill expectations; they build relationships with each contact; they must maintain a professional image no matter the situation; they must think on their feet and immediately utilize problem solving and/or conflict resolution skills; they employ organizational skills throughout the day and they maintain flexibility throughout the day balancing efficiency with every changing and demanding conditions.


A lot more than helping with banking needs and delivering packages, huh?


Not once in those explanations did you see a title; again, you are not a title.  You provide value in performing duties.   Relationship building, organization, analysis, problem solving – those are all skills utilized by both.  Which brings me to an important point: when looking at what you do start identifying the skills that you employ to perform these tasks.


Do you see how you start moving away from a title and more toward skills, value and assets?  Once you can start to identify these then you can take a whole new approach to your job searching.  Instead of looking for titles or positions that fit where you have always been; start looking for positions that meet your skill set.  These positions could be completely different that what you have ever done or in a whole new industry.


Stop looking at the job titles when looking for a job – start looking at the job itself.  If it is something that tickles your fancy then do an analysis.  What skills do they require and have you utilized these skills in the past and how can you demonstrate that to the prospective employer?


By looking at your job or previous jobs from a perspective of what did you do rather than this is all I know you will begin to see those walls crumble and allow yourself to open up to all sorts of possibilities that exist for you beyond that box.


Quick note:


I am working with The Grindstone to kick off Career Connect – an interactive speaker series to help people with various career experiences.  On March 1 I’ll start the series off speaking about career transition.  To find out more about this and sign up to join please go to!


I highly encourage you to attend these sessions – they have lined up some fantastic speakers and I am so honored to be included in the list, let alone kick it off!



Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Career Coach-Strategist

Certified Professional Resume Writer

Career Polish, Inc.