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

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

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

Conduct a year-end review

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

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

1. Question

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

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

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

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

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

2. Update

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

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

3. Combine

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

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

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

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

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

4. Cut

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

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

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

5. Revamp

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

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

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

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

6. Research

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

7. Reformat

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

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

It is your resume, make it your own.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But they are not.

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

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

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

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

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

Your Value + Your Voice = Visibility

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

–Lisa

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

Two Similar Hells: Online Dating and Job Searching

Computer FlowersDisclaimer: This article could contain inappropriate assumptions, sarcasm and language.  If you take offense to any of these, it is probably best if you just stop reading now.  No really, stop now; and I apologize to my mother in advance.  This is my fun day, in my little world I am having fun with the topic today.

On my list of unpleasant experiences online dating and job searching are certainly ranked up there.  As are root canals, surgery without the use of anesthesia, being trapped in a room of three year old on a sugar high, cleaning up dog poop and stomach flu.

I’m a list person, I have lists of everything.  To-do, never do again, goals, chores, things for which I am grateful and unpleasant things.  The unpleasant things list may just be in my head, but it exists.

I will give online dating the advantage though; when you are job searching the odds of receiving unkind messages, comments and emails from strangers is much less.  So in my opinion, online dating is a worse hell.

One girl told me she got an unsolicited, very unkind comment from someone on her dating profile in which they compared her physical appearance to that of man’s best friend.  Seriously.  No prospective employer sends you back an email similar to, “Just wanted to let you know that there is no way we will be calling you back.”

Before anyone gets all cranky, I know there are many people who met that special someone online.  To be fair, many people get jobs though job searching too, but that doesn’t make it a happy experience.

The similarities

Profile pictures

If you want a better response, both the online dating world and LinkedIn recommend you have a photograph of yourself.  I am not one that likes pictures of myself so in either case this is a torturous task.

In either case, please for the love of everything holy do not take a selfie in the bathroom!  No one, and I repeat this with all the fervor I can muster I pounding on my keyboard, no one wants to see your bathroom mirror or any part of your bathroom!  Ever.

A professional headshot is most appropriate for LinkedIn.  As far as dress, think of business casual for the most part, on rare occasions the suit and tie is appropriate.  For online dating, well, gentlemen if you are over 40 and no longer have that high school football physic then tank tops are not your friend.  Ladies, I am going to put this as delicately as I can by quoting a yourcard: dressing immodestly is like rolling around in manure; yes, you will get attention, but mostly from pigs.

It is important to choose just the right picture that will attract the right types of dates and prospective employers.

The profile

Too much about you

Oh, the wonderful lies we weave.  Nearly every woman I ever hear talk about online dating says the same thing is in almost every male profile: no drama.  Is that really necessary?  Is there any guy out there that wants drama?  Isn’t that an assumed?  Isn’t that like saying on your resume that you expect to be paid for the job?

To be fair here, guys, most women tell what they want you to do for them in saying what they like.  How you can earn their affection by where you take them and what you do for them rather than what qualities they bring to a potential relationship for you.  That is like opening your resume with “I am looking for a job that will allow me to use my skills and advance my career.”  It’s not all about you.

Representing yourself

Write your profile in your voice, true to you about what you have to offer.  There is nothing worse for a prospective employer to receive an outstanding resume, set up an interview and the individual in person/on the phone is a complete dude.  It leads to confusion, they wonder which one are you.  Similar to proclaiming yourself to be about 6’ tall and works out all the time when in reality you haven’t tipped the scales over 5’8” and your idea of vegetables are potato chips.

Honesty

Do not lie in your resume.  It will be found out. Same with your online dating profile, it will be found out, period.  Just do not do it, you lose all credibility no matter what good you have done to that point.

The job posting

Read the damn thing, please.  If someone posts that they prefer certain aspects and you either do not have those aspects or are completely contradictory – do not respond.  That is like applying for a medical position in which you have no experience but have watched ER, Greys Anatomy or Chicago Hope so you have a pretty good idea about hospitals and you know you can win them over with your stellar personality.

If you do not meet the most basic, core, essential job qualifications please do not waste their time – an employers or potential date.  Why set yourself up for rejection?  Stop it.

The interview

Or the first date in dating.  Normally you are not going to get a job offer in the first five minutes of your first interview, just like you are not going to get a marriage proposal in the first five minutes of that first date – if you do, run.  This is a process.  This is when the person across the table is sizing you up to see if you really are all that you proclaimed to be.

Later in the date and interview they get to the point of determining if you are a good fit for their company or life.  This includes assessing things like if you would get along with your coworkers and bosses, would they want to introduce you to the family or would they lie to their friends if they ran into them while you were on a date and try to completely cover the fact that they are there by their own accord.

The instant relationship

If you find that after one date you are not being referred to in a manner of significant other or you received an offer of employment in the first five minutes – you should really evaluate this.  Why are they so desperate to hire so quickly without getting to know you?  Is there a high turnover rate in that position?  You should find out why to evaluate if you want to accept the offer.

Job searching and dating can be fun – if you are interviewing/pursuing the right job or dating the right person.  It may take time to find that right person; however, in the meantime, do not diminish yourself to fit the sub standards of what you have found so far.  The right job or person is out there and can be found if you:

  • Know your value – what do you bring to the table?
  • Clearly state your value – how can you bring your value to the benefit of others, demonstrate rather than state; telling me you are a nice person means nothing, prove it.
  • Have a baseline of your needs, expectations and goals – if you do not know what you want how can anything fit the bill?
  • Be flexible to opportunities that offer these things – even if they are not like jobs you have had or people you have dated in the past
  • Remain positive and open – tomorrow is a new day, your perfect mate or job has not been run over by a bus
  • Keep trying – there are a lot of toads out there professionally and personally, the more you kiss you are that much closer to the right one
  • Network – be seen, meet new people, get to know them from the friend perspective/what you can do for them in a business perspective before you jump to picking out rings or 401(k) options
  • Keep your humor – be able to share and laugh about your experiences with a good friend, having wine on hand is good too

Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW
Brand Strategist & Career Coach
Certified Professional Resume Writer
www.CareerPolish.com

Is the Resume Dead?

chalkboardplayNo. Well, how is that for an easy blog read today?

As with most things, there is an ebb and flow, an evolution, a transition a change in course with resumes.

As my son would say, back in the day resumes represented a much different aspect in moving in, moving up or moving on in your career. Then, resumes were all about you and began with statements such as, “I am looking to join a company where I can use my skills and abilities to help a company excel and grow in my career.”

A list of job duties was then listed after each position on your resume. A cut, dried, simple and basic document all about you; what you want and what you were hired to do at current or previous positions.

Often, a resume was not even needed. You followed a trade or school path, it lead to an entry level position and it evolved from there. A career could be made in the same company, position or industry for your entire job life.

That was back in the day.

Now there are much less defined roads and more detours.

Resumes now are not about you, they are about them. Your resume represents a selling statement to the prospective employer answering their most important question: “What can you do for me?”

Not to be unkind, they do not care what you want. It is a buyer’s market, they can afford to be choosey, selfish and all about them.

Telling them what you were hired to do is no longer effective because being hired to do a job does not mean you did it or did it well. Bullet points have evolved from duty driven to value driven. What value did you bring to the organization, team, company or clients in doing what you did?

There are those that will argue that resumes are a thing of the past or unnecessary because networking is such a vital aspect of career transition or expansion. I agree with the networking aspect, it is critical in moving in, on or up; however the resume still plays a critical part, as well.

Not just for them, more importantly it is a critical component for you.

The resume is the basis of every other aspect of your career plan; whether that is breaking into a career, a new industry or the next level.

Your resume is your selling statement. You have to know what you are selling, the benefits, features and value before you can sell it. Bright and shiny only lasts so long in grabbing someone’s attention, to keep it you have to sell them on it.

This is what preparing a resume is about: defining your branding or value statement.

When you know your value and all the elements of which come into play you can then craft an effective LinkedIn profile, an elevator pitch, networking strategy, job search blueprint and business communications. The resume feeds and defines all of these factors; it is the foundation of your career home that you are building.

Your resume is your playbook from which you have numerous routes you can call depending on the score, the time and the opponent. Having a robust playbook allows you depth to draw from when the game changes.

You are not a one dimensional value provider; what you offer to a company extends beyond one skill set. An effective resume will showcase all of these different elements into a story that makes sense of the whole package. These are the different routes.

Let’s say for example you are in sales, toying with the idea of leaving your current employer and are attending a networking event. You meet someone at a company that you are very interested in and strike up a conversation.

Your current company is all about the numbers without cohesive plans of expanding into new territories or deepening current relationships. Know your shtick, give it, get the sale, get out and move on. You can knock the ball out the park with this and can speak fluently to a prospective hiring manager with another company with the same mindset.

But let’s say this company for whom the person you just met has a different mentality. They are solution-based and focus on the relationships to build the sales. Once you pick up on this in the conversation, it is time to change routes. Now you need to call the plays about your expertise, success and ability about relationships and solutions.

Having prepared your resume, you know this material backward and forward. You have identified and demonstrated it in your resume and therefore are able to recall and present it in a networking conversation easily.

Having never addressed these aspects in a resume, you do not have the background material or a comprehension of how to demonstrate rather than make generalized statements. You may have seen the play run, but you haven’t practiced, haven’t taken the hit yourself or made the catch. It sure looks easy to catch that ball; but it is a whole different story when it is coming right at you, along with big guys determined to make sure you miss it, drop it or get dropped as soon as you do.

One of my happy dance moments in working with my clients is when they tell me that they now get how skills A, B and C all interact, play together to create and deepen their value – it all makes sense and they can speak to it in different capacities.

You may not feel the need to prepare a resume to give to a prospective employer or even move up in your current company. However, I would strongly suggest that you prepare one – not for them, for you. For you to effectively educate yourself and rediscover your value and all that you have to offer. This will allow you to effectively position your branding statement anytime, anywhere under any condition.
Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW
Brand Strategist & Career Coach
Certified Professional Resume Writer
http://www.CareerPolish.com

5 Rules of Organization to Apply to Your Resume for Career Progression or Transition

I am an organizational junkie.  I love reading, watching and listening to anything about organization; from the garage, kitchen, closets, office – any organizational tip I can find I read it or watch it with excitement.

I guess I am hoping one day all those shows, videos, books, articles and tidbits will magically sink in and make me organized.

I have a bit of dual personality when it comes to organization.  My work is very organized, my environment, well, that is a different story.  Let’s just say it is a work in progress.

Looking at my office this morning I realize it is time for an organization intervention.  I started thinking about the general rules of organization.  Although it is definitely needed, it will not happen today; I have resumes to write and that is my priority.

As I began writing, my mind was still lingering on the organization aspect and that is when the connection hit me:  if you use the rules of organization to organize your resume you can organize your job search, career growth and business success.

Your resume is the foundation of your job search.  It drives everything from your LinkedIn profile, interviewing and networking.

A good business bio does the same thing for your business in defining your LinkedIn profile, networking, customer communications and growth.  From here on out I will use the word resume, but keep in mind this applies to business owners and their own communication pieces.

5 General Rules of Organizing:

1. Purge

Most every aspect of our life falls in the 80/20 rule.  Focus on the 20.

Resume

For the position you seek or the career you desire you must first understand what is important in that role.  What are the skills, value and qualifications that are important for your success and that are valued by the organization?  This is your 20% focus for 80% of your resume.

2. Decide

Right here right now.  For each item ask, “Do I love it? Do I use it?”  If you answer no then get rid of it.

Resume

For each statement, sentence, area of expertise item and bullet point ask, “Do I love it? Do I use it?”  The love it part is actually does it love me?  Does this item support you in demonstrating yourself as the best candidate?  Does it speak to what is important to the position or company?  If you answer no then get rid of it.

3. Remove

Be ruthless and bag or box any unloved or unused item and donate, sell or trash.

Resume

All those miscellaneous items clogging up your resume that do not support you in the role you want – trash them.  Do not waste the reader’s time with minutia, you want them to focus on the specific points of your value and overall skill set.

4. Use a System

Group like items, make it easy to see and find what you are looking for  – i.e. in the garage or shed keep all the gardening tools together and in partnership with what you use together.  Pots, trowels, potting mix etc. Labeling shelving and boxes make for quicker and easier identification.

Resume

Your system is to write toward the job you want rather than giving a cliff notes version of the jobs you have had.  Under each position group like items, make it easy to for the reader to find what they are looking for, possibly use subtitles and emphasize key words for easier identification.

5. Maintain Focus

The driving force is the goal of organization, not each item individually.  Focus on the overall goal and let go of the overwhelming desire to let the emotional attachment of each item drive your progress.

Resume

Focus on the overall goal of your next position and let go of the overwhelming desire to emotionally beat yourself up on past mistakes, poor position choices and seemingly unrelated career history.

Write your resume looking forward, not back.  What, in those past positions, helped you in any way for that next job?  What type of skills or lessons were learned and how can you apply them?  There is a thread there; it is your job to find it in order to present it to the reader so they understand.

Once you have taken the time to organize your resume and get rid of all that unwanted clutter then take a break.  Come back to it with a relaxed attitude.  What you will now see is a framework that fully supports you.  Now, you can start tweaking it and putting in the final touches that bring it all together.

With a clean, fresh resume you can confidently – and strategically – organize and implement your LinkedIn profile, networking, elevator speech, interviewing and career search or advancement.

 

Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Brand Strategist & Career Coach

Certified Professional Resume Writer

http://www.CareerPolish.com

 

 

Job Searching and Contact Information – Keep it Clean and Keep it Simple

I have said it before and I am sure I will say it many more times, looking for a job is a job in itself. 

 

Rarely have I talked to someone who would describe the experience as pleasant.  Strike that, I don’t think I have ever talked to anyone who describes job searching as anything near pleasant.

 

There are times that you might feel everything is stacked against you, or that those powers that be that are evaluating your resume are playing by a set of rules that they just will not share with you.

 

Most often, if you are rejected for a position you never know why.

 

Do you know that it could be something as simple or small as your email address?

 

Email Addresses: Keep it Clean

 

If your email address is inappropriate, it could be landing your resume in the trash before they even get to your opening statement.

 

Not fair?  Maybe, but remember the powers that be and those rules that no one is telling you about…

 

The line of thinking is that if you are applying for a professional position you are professional enough to assume it and perform the role.  If you have an email that completely counteracts that professional image it could be sending the wrong message.

 

Quick fix: create a simple, clean email address.  It only takes a few minutes to set up an email account.  The bonus of this is when you setup a separate email for job searching, you know everything in that account is about your job search.  No wading through emails about the kids school activities, family messages, friends jokes or links – just all about the search.

 

A last thought on your email: if submitting your resume electronically, be sure to make your email address a hyperlink.  That way when the powers that be are reading your resume and think, “Wow, I really want to contact this person,” all they have to do is click on the link at the top of your page.    

 

They are busy folks here, do not make they go through the process of copy and pasting into an email.  Normally in Word when you hit the space bar after typing an email address it automatically formats it into a hyperlink (as indicated by the blue coloring and underline). 

 

If for some reason it does not, move the cursor to the email, right click and choose hyperlink and recreate.

 

Email Addresses: Keep it Simple

 

Another piece of your contact information is your phone number.  I advise my clients to only use one phone number.  Those powers that be are busy folks.  We do not want to make them have to make a choice as to which number or presume that they will call both and leave a message. 

 

Keep it simple and just use one phone number in your contact information.  It can also help you eliminate some anxiety on your part.  What if they left a message on your home number and you did not receive it until the evening when you got home?  That initial excitement feeling could quickly be overcome with the feeling of “oh shoot, I have to wait until tomorrow to call them back.”

 

When you call them back the next day, you might have to leave a voicemail.  And the game of tag begins, but you are not aware you are getting tagged until late in the evening.

 

Of course, leaving a cell phone number can lead to the game of tag, too.  Primarily I am a proponent of only using one phone number so it makes it easier for the powers that be.  Also, when you only list one phone number there is no reason to give it a descriptor, i.e “Home” or “Cellular”.  Just list the phone number.

 

Every aspect of your resume is important, even the smallest detail like a phone number or email address.  One phone number without a descriptor and one simple email will make your letterhead on your resume, cover letter and any communication look much more professional and clean. 

 

Lisa K McDonald, CPRW

Brand Strategist & Career Coach

Certified Professional Resume Writer

www.CareerPolish.com

 

The One Thing Keeping Your Dreams or Goals from Coming True

Image On the last day of crappy weather this weekend I was nursing some sort of stomach ailment and talking with my best friend about all the things including Spring/Summer projects, dogs and the dream of moving to California in a few years.

 

We always have wish lists for Spring and Summer; but they never seem to get done.  We usually come back to eventually we want to move so the overwhelming lists seems much easier to dismiss when we view it from the “I won’t be here forever” perspective.

 

And then my best friend said something in all her infinite wisdom.  “So what if we lived like we want to then, now.”    

 

Well, damn.

 

So that beautiful vegetable and herb garden we envision we plant this year, of course minus the avocado trees.  The peaceful flower garden surrounding the deck, surrounds it this year.  That piece of peace that serves as inspiration for future goals become current reality. 

 

It started to sink in.  Then she asked a question that drove it home: “Why are we waiting – don’t we deserve it now?”

 

Well, double damn.

 

I drew out plans for the garden and herb garden.  I made a completely new wish list and I didn’t skimp.  I listed all the things I want done to create my own little world just the way I see it a few years from now.  Some repair work in the house, painting, some building and lot of cultivating outside. 

 

Of course my zeal was heightened because just last week my 21 year old son told me to make him a list.  He wants to do any work his dad and me can come up with in appreciation of us helping him with school and housing costs.  He doesn’t like taking money for free, he wants to feel like he is earning it.

 

Heck, yeah.  First, I am proud that he has gone from a kid that growing up couldn’t grasp the concept of a trash can to a young man that wants to earn his own way.  Second, he is a strong kid and honestly, I can absolutely use the help!

 

The conversation has stayed with me.  As I began my “work week” I realized how this lesson wasn’t just for me.  Too often I hear people talk about transitioning into new positions or industries to get start living a new reality. 

 

The one thing that keeps dreams and goals from coming true is staring us right back in the mirror.  We do it to ourselves by pushing those ideals out to the future.  We see then as a complete package – we have to have the whole thing, in one big fell swoop, and that only happens in the future. 

 

 

It happens now by changing our attitude and taking many small steps to get to that whole transformation.

 

That garden isn’t going to go into full bloom overnight.  I see it in my mind a wondrous place that I can go pick tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and herbs to make fresh salads and bruschetta.

But first I have to till up the old soil, get rid of the top layer, build a fence to keep my tomato-stealing puppies out, build boxes for the herbs, fill in the right kind of soil, plant all the plants, weed, water, strain, get dirty and sweat a lot.  Then, after time, it will evolve to my wondrous garden.

 

The first thing is knowing what that garden looks like.  What is that place look like for you?  Is it a new environment, more money, different responsibilities?  What about that future place is going to make a difference? 

 

What if you don’t know what that new place looks like?  That’s ok.  Think about what comes to mind when you think of a better future.  Is it a certain feeling, like a feeling of accomplishment?

 

Either way, get an idea of what that new place looks or feels like and start implementing it now.  Start looking at your current position in life and ask yourself, “What can I change here, now, to make it more in line with that next place.”

 

Wanting to learn new skills; look around where you currently are and ask to be a part of a new project.  Partner with co-workers asking them to teach you something you don’t know.  Come into work with a new perspective – as though you are new.  Where can you make a difference, what can you improve? 

 

I need to build a fence and gate to close off the garden.  I have been researching, figuring out what materials I need, what tools I will need and how to put it together.  I am not a carpenter, but I have the ability to research, learn and put it in practice.

 

Start living in that feeling of accomplishment now.  Even if you cannot make a change today, look back at your day and allow yourself to see your accomplishments.  How did you make a difference?  How did you help someone, a co-worker or client, how did you make their life just a little easier?  That is an accomplishment.

 

Start living that future now.  See yourself in that role.  If you were offered that position tomorrow how would you prepare for it today?  Would you need any additional education?  Sign up.  Would you need more leadership experience?  Start stepping up where you are asking for more and pay attention to how you treat people.  Is that how a leader treats people?

 

Jim Croce sang about working at the car wash blues, he was an undiscovered Howard Hughes that sould be sitting in an air conditioned office in a swivel chair instead of rubbing bumpers with a rag and walking home in soggy shoes.

 

You may be walking in soggy shoes now, but start walking with the presence of where you want to be and pretty soon you will start seeing how what steps you need to take action on to transition from car bumpers to swivel chairs.

 

Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Brand Strategist & Career Coach

Certified Professional Resume Writer

www.CareerPolish.com

 

You are an Example to Yourself

When did we start expecting perfection from ourselves?  When did we start believing that mistakes and failures were fatal?  When did we get so darn uptight?  I’m perplexed.

 

I am a human full of flaws which put together tell the story of me, my growth, my value, my lessons and my life.  I am very fortunate that I had a very supportive environment growing up; my parents were realistic enough to know that they did not create the perfect child in me.  I obliged by proving it several times over.

 

I was the youngest of three.  My brother was the brain and my sister was the social one.  Then there was me.  I didn’t fit into a category.  This is where my dad was such a major influence on me.  He taught me to use power tools, how to change a tire, how to bait my own hook, the importance of knowing being honest and respectful, as well as above all else, being a girl was not a factor in anything I did.  Not taking anything away from my mom at all.  She served as an example of many of the lessons he taught.

 

My brother patiently mentored me with my school work, especially in math.  We both loved math, but it came easily to him and I had to learn how to crack its code.  There is a definiteness about math.  He allowed me to make mistakes and never made me feel stupid for doing so, then steered me back on the path of mastery.

 

I tried to take these lessons with me as an adult, mother and coach.  When my son was younger I made a huge mistake at work.  That night I told him about it because it was important to demonstrate two things: mom isn’t perfect and it isn’t always the mistake but the corrective action that is important.

 

This week I attended an event where I had the pleasure of hearing Dr. Rob Bell speak.  He teaches mental toughness training for sports, business and life.  Early in his presentation he used an example involving golf.

 

Let me set the record straight – I am not a golfer.  I was married to a golfer and seemed to only be invited to go when the weather was horrible and his golfing buddies didn’t want to go in that kind of a mess.  The day I chipped in for a birdie was pretty much the end of that.

 

The point of the story was about a mistake Dr. Rob had made and the ripple effects.  Not being a golfer I didn’t participate in the groan that was heard after he mentioned his mistake, but I was still as engaged.  Why – because he made himself the example without demeaning himself.

 

By the way, Dr Rob gave a fantastic presentation and I highly recommend you visit his website to learn more about him (www.drrobbell.com) and while you are there be sure to check out his newest book!

 

Self-depreciation is charming to a point.  Self-slamming is uncomfortable and unnecessary. 

 

We all make mistakes.  I find we are much easier on others in accepting their mistakes than we are for ourselves. 

 

Knock it off.

 

Give yourself a break, will ya?

 

Next time you screw up, and you will – we are all human, try something a little different.  Tell the story out loud.  Not to yourself in a bashing kind of way.  Instead, as though you were talking to your child, your best friend or your spouse.  How would you tell the story to someone that you either want to serve as an example for or someone that loves you unconditionally?  We tell those that love us our failures because we know they will say it is ok, we will do better. 

 

Start saying that to yourself.  “It is ok, you will do better.”

 

What did you learn from this?  How can you improve it right now?  What can you do in the future to make sure it doesn’t happen again?  What other surprise lessons were learned from this?  There are often hidden treasures for us that we just need to open our eyes to see.  Once we discover them it is quite amazing how much we can truly learn from one mistake or failure.

 

Abraham Lincoln’s mother told her family on her deathbed to be kind to one another.  Yes, be kind to one another and be kind to yourself.

 

Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Brand Strategist & Career Coach

Certified Professional Resume Writer

www.CareerPolish.com

 

You are Not the Only One

I think that people generally want to belong.  We find friends of similar interests and mindsets.  We are drawn to people like ourselves or that have qualities that we respect or identify with.  There is a part of us that does like that alone time, but as a whole, we like to be around others similar to ourselves.

 

Why is it when something bad happens in our life we naturally assume we are so unique as to be the only person in the world that has either gone through this or understands it?

 

When we get fired, laid off or displaced we retreat into our own little world thinking we are alone.

 

There are situations that it may be hard pressed to find someone with the exact same circumstances; however, you are not alone.

 

So why do we allow ourselves to feel that way?

 

Fear or embarrassment. 

 

We don’t want to admit that something bad happened.  Perhaps it will be seen as a poor reflection of ourselves.  I was fired so therefore I must be the worst employee ever.  People will think differently of me, people will not respect me, people won’t respect me.

 

I wish for one moment that all those going through that thought process would take all that energy they are putting in that isolation into doing something positive.  If I could have wrangled all those negative feelings when I was in that same position and put it into cleaning my house – it would have been spotless, Mr. Clean would be impressed.

 

It is wasted energy.

 

First of all, you are not the only one.

 

No, it is not the most pleasant thing to talk about.  However, if you can take a much less pessimistic view and open up to people then what you might find is you will hear a lot of “been there, done that.”

 

No one needs to know the gory details of why it happened.  The simple fact is it did.  Don’t elaborate on it.  Just state it and immediately, in that same breath make a statement that you are moving forward.

 

It will be hard on two fronts.  First, the need to feel that you need to defend yourself.  You don’t.  Just state it plain, simple and quick.  Second, people are damn nosey.  You might get the “what happened?” questions.  This will be difficult to avoid getting sucked in.

 

It is like when you break up with someone.  I was engaged and then one day, I was no longer engaged.  When people found out more often than not I heard two statements back to back:

 

“I’m so sorry!”

“What happened?  You guys seemed perfect together.”

 

Ugh.

 

Thank you for the support and thank you for wanting to get all the details of which I was having enough of a hard time dealing with.

 

I got to the point that I started using one of my most prominent attributes: humor.  Ok, let’s be honest, it is me.  I used sarcasm.  I started replying with:

 

“Thank you”

“Someone forgot to tell us we were perfect for each other”

 

Or

 

“Thank you”

“Obviously we weren’t perfect for each other, but good to know you thought so, now I know never to let you set me up.”

 

Or something like that.  The point is, I cut it off.  I didn’t allow someone to get the “skinny” on something negative that happened to me.  It wasn’t their business and by reliving it, I was not able to release it. 

 

Today, I see it as a blessing.  Before I got to that place I had to realize that I wasn’t the only one.  Other people broke up and were fully able to move forward with their life, why couldn’t I?  And I did.

 

There are very few people that can claim such horrendous circumstances in their life to claim that they are the only one.  Nelson Mandela is one that comes to mind.  But the thing about Mr. Mandela is that he still remained positive.  He didn’t wallow.

 

Stop wallowing.  You are not the only one and although it might satisfy someone’s curiosity, don’t relive the experience.  Accept it, learn from it and move on.  This will allow you to reconnect with the world again and truly move on.  And one day you might find that this horrible event was one of the best blessings you could have ever received.

 

Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Certified Professional Resume Writer

Brand Strategist & Career Coach

www.CareerPolish.com

 

 

 

Is a Resume Worth It?

resume (2)I have had clients tell me that they have read articles stating that the resume is dead, the new trend is web pages and Google searches and that no one reads a resume any more so do they really need one?

 

In other words – is a resume worth it?

 

Worth all the work and expense.

 

Yes.

 

Why – because the resume still holds as the foundation of your entire job search strategy.

 

Then next statement I hear is, out of frustration, “I know what I want to say on my resume but I don’t know how to say it.”

 

I hear that a lot.

 

Lot. Lot. Lot.

 

It is not just making a pretty piece of paper it is about creating and defining your message and delivering it in a way that promotes action.   This is what compels someone to talk to you and compels you to get out there and sell yourself in the best possible way.

 

Clarifying exactly who you are, your value, what you have to offer and why someone would want to talk to you rather than the hundreds of other candidates.  It sets the foundation for who you are, period.

 

Once you have a foundation, it then translates to all other aspects of your job searching.

 

How you introduce yourself and build connections through networking.

 

How you define yourself and create a searchable and connectable profile on LinkedIn.

 

How you perform during interviews and subsequent communication.

 

It also helps you re-identify yourself, the things you love about what you do and define where you want to go.  It strengthens your commitment, allows you to acknowledge and appreciate your own value and builds confidence in moving forward.

 

It is not just a piece of paper – it is your foundation.

 

It is worth it, even if no one ever reads it (which they will), to go through the process of creating this profile, identifying your value and clarifying your message.

 

In job searching you are in sales – you are selling yourself.

 

If you do not know what you are selling and how to sell it then how do you expect to make a sale?

 

It is worth it.

 

 

Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

www.CareerPolish.com

 

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