No, I’m not kidding, there is more than one type of cover letter

I literally said this to someone at the gym the other morning.

Perhaps not the way I would normally respond, but give me a break, it was early. Chief somehow gets us to the gym in the ungodly hour of 5 am so I wake up sometime around 6ish on a treadmill.

The guys at the gym know what I do. Not that they asked me. They asked Chief.  It’s the southern manners, they often talk to the man instead of the woman.

It’s very interesting, especially for someone not from the south. The closest I get to being a Southern Belle is Carol Burnett’s Scarlette.

On this day, Chief was out of town so it was just me. Somehow, a couple of the guys were talking about early retirement, changing jobs, job searching – you know, stuff up my alley. Then I hear one tell the other that it’s good for him to keep his resume updated all the time (true) but not to worry about a Cover Letter, they’re dead.

Wait. What?

Now boys, I appreciate the southern charm, I really do. However, that advise is as useful as a steering wheel on a mule. And you’re fixin’ to get me riled up.

Too late, riling happened. I had to interject. Because, you know, this is what I do….

Now if you think a couple of good ol’ boys are going to believe a girl who’s just about knee-high to a duck just because she said so well then you’ve only got one oar in the water.

So after the above mentioned “No, I’m not kidding” I did convince them (and educate a little) with some Q&A:

Q: What if you saw a position posted and they asked for a cover letter? Oh, well yeah…
A: That’s right, you would have to write a Traditional Cover Letter, which targets a specific job in a company.

Q: What if you were referred to send your resume to someone in the company? Uh, the same thing?
A: Just about, just a tiny technicality in calling it a Referral Cover Letter which mentions the person who referred you.

Q: Now, what if you wanted to be proactive in your job search and reach out to a company, companies in an industry or an entire region to discover a position that isn’t even posted yet, create enough interest that one is created for you or make such an impression that they refer you to a hidden opportunity – meaning hardly any competition? You can do that?
A: You betcha! It’s called a Value Proposition Letter, which is a crisp, focused letter demonstrating your value. There are versions to this, with minor differences:
– A letter of interest – written without a specific job in mind to a specific company.
– A broadcast letter – written without a specific job to several employers in a targeted sector.
– A prospecting letter – without a specific job to a smaller, more targeted audience.

Q: Okay, lastly, what if you wanted to do something new but didn’t know anything about it so you wanted to reach out to someone to get their advice on how to get into their industry, find out more about what the position is like or even what else you can do once you get into it? I don’t know
A: Another letter – or email – but this time it’s a Networking Letter. You’re basically asking for an Informational Interview to get their advice or gather information about a position, industry or your job search.

My good deed and workout were done for the day.

Oh, and don’t think these things are just thrown together haphazardly. Oh no, each letter is thoroughly researched, targeted and meticulously crafted for the most impact. The most impactful and successful Value Proposition Letters are no more than 150 words – total!

Some hiring managers and recruiters may take the side of the gym boys saying the Cover Letter is dead. It may be in their eyes. But not for everyone.

I know many decision makers across multiple industries that do read the Cover Letters. Some read it before the resume and use it as a deciding factor if they want to read the resume. Some read after the resume as a test to make sure the person sounds the same in both.

Across our industry, it is generally accepted that on the low end, at least 60% of jobs are hidden – meaning they aren’t advertised. Think about it for a minute, how often do you hear or know of when a position needs to be filled, internally you hear those four little words, “do you know anyone…”?

This is why networking and hidden job market strategy using Value Proposition Letters are so amazing. They get results.

Every piece of communication is an opportunity for you to expand your network, cement your brand and open doors. Why would you turn that down? The person on the other side of the desk can choose not to read that letter, but wouldn’t you rather have it and not need it than need it and not have it?

Of course, I guess if someone doesn’t want to make the most of every possible opportunity, they have their reasons, bless their little heart.

 

Has one of these letters been successful for you? Bonus question – I had a lot of fun with the southern sayings in this – I think “bless their heart” is still my favorite. What’s your favorite or one that you don’ hear anymore? 

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As a triple certified as a Professional Resume Writer, Career Coach and Social Media Brand Analyst I help amazing professionals break out of a suffocating corporate existence and get happy in their career.

I’m the career alchemist – I turn job lead into career gold!

Click here – CareerPolish.com – to find out more about we can work together to get you career happy.

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There are no such things as lazy hummingbirds in nature or in your career

One of my favorite birds in the hummingbird. I love watching them dance and zoom around the flowers, each other and the feeders. I love their colors and personalities. I love their symbolism, meaning, and energy in nature. The latter is why I have a little hummingbird tattooed on my ankle.

In other words: I’m a fan.

I put my feeders out a few weeks ago and let my mother know of my first sightings. Since she is in Indianapolis, I wanted to give her a heads up that they would soon be headed her way.

The other day I was telling Chief about how quickly I am having to refill my feeders and how they haven’t shown up at moms yet. That’s when he said the funniest thing.

“Do you think our hummingbirds are just the lazy ones that don’t want to fly any further North?”

No!

They are territorial little things and this is their territory, their summer home. They want to be here. They aren’t stuck here because they’re lazy! And by the way, I don’t think there is such a thing as a lazy hummingbird.

That comment not only made me laugh, but it also stuck in my head. And since my mind always twists things into a parallel for careers, personal branding or job searching, I saw a connection to how we beat ourselves up for being happy in our job or career.

It’s such a more, more, more type world. You did $50k in sales, great – now get to $100k. Your business broke the $5M mark, awesome – now do $10M. You made Manager, great – now you need to go after District Manager. With every mark you make it isn’t enough, you should be doing more. You shouldn’t rest on your laurels, keep going, strive for more, go, go, go!

Why?

What’s wrong with being happy right where you are? What if you don’t want to be that next title up? What if money or titles or prestige isn’t the most important thing to you? I’m not knocking any of those, I’m just saying what if right here is your right place?

Why are we looked at as lazy hummingbirds for staying where we are, even if we have the ability to go further?

Society expectations? Peer pressure? Parent blaming? Who knows?

The point is, stop it. If you are happy where you are, stop defending yourself. Stop thinking there is something wrong with you. There is absolutely nothing wrong with you, you’ve got it all right!

You’re the lucky one: you figured out what makes you happy and you’re living it. Hooray for you! Being happy right here gives you a longer season to enjoy the sweet nectar of happiness.

 

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As a triple certified as a Professional Resume Writer, Career Coach, and Social Media Brand Analyst I help leaders break out of a suffocating corporate existence and into a position and place that renews their brilliance.  Click here – CareerPolish.com – to find out more about we can work together to get you unstuck

Your resume is a persuasive conversation – why aren’t you doing the talking?

I heard Tony Robbins say, and I’m going to paraphrase, that it is vital to know your desired outcome before you have a conversation. That way you can guide it to what you want and maximize your time. A few intents can be to inform, convey, or persuade.

Sounds like a resume to me.

Inform the reader of your qualifications, convey your value and persuade them to set up an interview.

Your resume is that initial conversation. Unfortunately, I see too many people figuratively standing in front of your target (your resume) but not doing any talking.

Let’s discover the three biggest challenges that hold most people back and get rid of that block right here and now.

Challenge 1 – Too much information

Do you know if you search for “how to write a resume” on Google, you will get 381,000,000 results in .55 seconds? I did it. Here’s my screenshot:

google search write a resume - lisa k mcdonald

That’s way too much information to read. Beyond that, I’ll bet you dollars to donuts that it is mostly contradictive. One article says to do this, another says oh no, do the opposite. It’s just too much. And no, the irony of me saying that in an article about writing your resume is not lost on me.

Step away from the research.

Challenge 2 – Talk yourself out of it

I call this the lack of permission. Let me explain.

You see, you know what you need to write.

Yes, you do.

No really, I’ll prove it to you. Answer the following questions out loud:
• What will you be doing?
• How will it impact a business, team, client base?
• What are the skills necessary to do this job?
• Can you do or have you done these things for a positive outcome?
• Prove it.

That right there – the prove it, that is important. If you were to prove it to me, you would be telling me a story demonstrating your skills, experience and results.

Don’t you think that would persuade or convince a reader that you have the necessary skills? Possibly persuading them to have another conversation?

Here is where the permission comes into play. Generally, people are afraid to write down the conversation we just had above. They say things like:
• It doesn’t sound right for a resume.
• It sounds too informal.
• They don’t know ‘resume’ words
• It’s not what they are used to.

They talk themselves out of using the good stuff because it feels different.

Let me help you with this.

It is different. And by the way, normal person, you don’t write resumes every day. How do you know what it should sound like, feel like or look like? You don’t. (I say normal person because, well, have you ever met a group of people like me? We’re definately unique in that we really like writing resumes! We know that isn’t normal, but we love it anyway!)

Oh wait, all your research tells you…. Yes, I know. But get out of your head for a minute. Remember, step away from the research. Engage more than that one section of your brain.

Tell me if you have ever thought or muttered this phrase (or something similar), “if I can just get in front of someone, I have no problem talking about/selling myself”.

If so, then you are only giving yourself permission to have that conversation during an interview, not the resume. But guess what, if they don’t know it in the resume, why would they want to set up an interview?

I am officially eliminating that excuse. I hereby give you permission as a Certified Professional Resume Writer, Certified Social Brand Analyst and Certified Career Coach.

Don’t wait for the interview. Prime the pump, get them excited – tell them what you want them to know!

Just do it!

You need to set that stage – tell them how you are the answer to their problem. Set the foundation in their mind of you, your value, your brand, your voice. Don’t waste this opportunity to tell them what they need to hear because you’re afraid of telling them what you want them to know.

Challenge 3 – They may not like it

You’re right. Some people are not going to like what you put together. I’ve been doing this for over a decade and I still can’t please every reviewer, recruiter, HR person or Great Aunt Gertrude every single time.

Some people like one page, others like three, some hate Times New Roman, others scoff at Calibri, some like visuals, others think they are distracting, there is too much information, not there isn’t enough, it should be pink, it should be red, no it should be a freankin’ rainbow…sorry, I digressed into Alex’s speech on Greys’ in planning the prom.

The point is, no, not everyone is going to like it. The point of that is good. You want it to appeal to the people and company cultures that are most like you or that are best in supporting your growth and value. Not every company is a good fit for you.

Let your value and brand shine through in your resume to do some pre-screening of companies that either don’t deserve you or are a bad fit for you.

You have permission, you know what you want to tell them – now go have some fun with it!

What challenges do you face in trying to put together your resume or LinkedIn profile? 

 

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As a triple certified as a Professional Resume Writer, Career Coach and Social Media Brand Analyst I help leaders break out of a suffocating corporate existence and into a position and place that renews their brilliance. I get people unstuck and gain momentum in their careers.
Click here – CareerPolish.com – to find out more about we can work together to get you moving forward.

What Snow In Vegas Has To Do With Your Job Search

I’d never been to Vegas, only flown over the Grand Canyon and never seen Red Rock. So to say I was excited to see these on our anniversary trip would have been an understatement. Not only would I get to see some of the most beautiful nature this country has to offer but it would be warm.

I’m over the cold, I’m over the snow, the ice. The frigid temperatures. Dressing in layers. I’m over the whole winter thing. I can’t stand cold. Going to Nevada in February, where it was supposed to be warm, sunny and no winter in sight.

That was the plan at least. But then there was snow. In Vegas. For the first time in over a decade. Seriously? Who would think they need hats, boots, coats and layers in Vegas??

We did.

The really crappy weather could have ruined our trip. We heard plenty of people complaining about it. Instead, it was one of the best trips we’d ever had.

Because we used our superpower.

The things that most people complained about were actually the benefits. That was the superpower in action: seeing the negative as a positive.

Because of the snow, cold, and rain most people stayed away. We nearly had all the landmarks to ourselves. At the Skybridge at the West Rim of the Grand Canyon, the guide told us they normally get over 4,000 people a day. But with the weather that week, they hadn’t even come close to cracking 1,000.

Red Rock
Enjoying the beauty and solitude of Red Rock Canyon
  • Joining us at Red Rock were a handful of serious hikers. Other than that, we were able to be fully immersed in the Canyon and its beauty.
  • Hoover Dam was relaxing going at our own pace without being herded in a crowd.
  • The strip – nearly a ghost town! We had the over-the-street crosswalks and escalators to ourselves. We found a table immediately at the Eataly. Front row for the Bellagio fountains show with no one sharing our space. Anything you wanted to play in any location was completely open.

It was wonderful. We checked things off our bucket list. Chief got to enjoy a 2+ hour tour and see the first Shelby ever built and I got to be fully immersed, nearly in complete solitude, in magnificent, inspiring nature.

Everyone has this superpower, sadly we often chose to ignore it. It is easier to complain about a sky full of clouds instead of seeing a single daffodil blooming at your feet. How you perceive the world has a lot to do with what happens in your world.

So how does this help your job search? By redefining how you look at events. Are you letting things happen to you or letting things that happen guide you?

Here is a superpower fine tune that I learned years ago and I still practice today: I get thankful and excited about rejection.

That’s right, I celebrate the no.

Is this crazy, yeah, probably. But it has made such a difference on so many levels that I don’t care about crazy, I go for the feel good.

Here’s how it works. I’m on the phone with a potential client and we decide for whatever reason that it’s not a good fit to work together. After the call, I say out loud “Thank you! Now there is room for my yes .” I consider any type of no as one step closer to something I want to say yes to.

Here’s a superpower view for job search rejection:

  • That job you were rejected for – good thing, they were offering 30% below market salary.
  • The one that never called back – thank goodness, it was a toxic culture that causes a high turnover.
  • The one that you interviewed for several times then nothing – dodged a bullet there my friend. They are on the brink of disaster and going to pin the downfall on the new guy.

All those rejections keep you open to the right thing. It’s coming, it’s out there. Keep doing the smart strategies: networking, customizing resumes to positions, offering value, keeping your ears open, updating your LinkedIn…

Maybe those rejections get you so frustrated that you reach out for help. Maybe it is someone like me or maybe it is a group that meets regularly and offers a full range of support. (If you are in Indianapolis, I highly, highly recommend Passport to Employment as this supportive group).

Without that rejection, you would not have been ‘pushed’ into getting the help that you needed to get the job you wanted.

Seeing a positive or potential opportunity honestly takes a little bit of work. It is a muscle you have to develop and regularly continue to work to make stronger. Start small.

  • Hit every red light? Whew, you probably missed a major back up or that delay got you there just in time for a premium parking space!
  • Can’t take advantage of a great parking space because someone’s hogging two spaces? Won’t he be sorry when, because of his parking style, his car gets swiped and paint chipped – but not yours!

Start using your superpower today even in the smallest of ways and see how the landscape changes for you.

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As a triple certified as a Professional Resume Writer, Career Coach, and Social Media Brand Analyst I help amazing people break out of a suffocating corporate existence and into a position and place that renews their brilliance.

Click here – CareerPolish.com – to find out how I get people unstuck in their careers.

If You Can’t Sell Yourself, How Do You Expect A Recruiter To?

Do you know how many times a recruiter hears, “just get me in, and I can sell myself.”?

A lot.

Hey, I’m all for confidence – more power to you.

This is a BS statement when it is coupled with a resume that doesn’t demonstrate how their qualifications are a solution to that company’s problem. That’s right, I’m immediately throwing the BS flag in this article.

Hey wait a minute, I know what I am worth, I know I’m the solution or savior here, I know how to sell myself – why is that BS?

Because the theory behind this does not jive with the practical application you are employing.

Are you expecting to just have a conversation with the recruiter and they will then translate all your goodness to the prospective employer in order that you will get the interview?

Shame. Shame on you.

You want the recruiter to get you in there, for goodness sake, help them out!
Most recruiters I know are not going to redo your resume, and they shouldn’t. Their time is valuable and their talents aren’t in resumes. It is in matching solutions (you) to problems/needs (their clients – technically their client’s problems or needs).

If your resume doesn’t prove this, odds are you really can’t sell yourself. I’m not trying to be harsh, just help you out.

Your resume is setting the stage. It’s getting the prospective employer to get excited. It’s setting the tone of your brand. If you have a recruiter who can talk you up and get an employer interested, there is going to be a step back when the employer sees that lackluster resume.

Why?

Incongruence.

If you have the goods (and you do), it should come across in everything about you: your LinkedIn, your resume, your interview – every conversation, everything about you.

The reality is, writing your resume is hard and it sucks.

Holy cow, trying to capture what they want to hear, putting it in a way that doesn’t sound like your bragging, making sure it has the right verbiage – that’s a lot of work. It isn’t done in a day. And it’s not something to overlook or take for granted.

You’ve got to know what is important to that industry or company. What are their challenges? You also have to demonstrate your knowledge, expertise or experience in solving similar problems so they can clearly see that if you have done it before, you are more than likely able to do it again – for them.

Giving your recruiter a plane jane resume then asking them to talk you up is like having your buddy try to set you up with someone you are keen on but don’t give them any selling points. So they end up telling that person that you have a ‘great personality’.

Maybe you do have a great personality, but wouldn’t it be better to tell them that you haven’t missed a single opening day at Wriggly Field if that person is a Cubs fan?

Give your recruiter something to work with – it makes their job easier, which translates to getting you in the door faster. Have a quality resume.

I’m not saying that you have to hire me – I’m not saying not to either. What I am saying is to invest in yourself. If you don’t want to make the financial investment to hire a professional, then make the time investment in yourself.

It’s not just for the recruiter or the employer – it’s for you. It will help you clarify your value and develop those impact stories for the interview or networking. Here’s a little help to give you a head start. An article about the two most important elements that need to be demonstrated in your resume: How to Make Everyone – Including you – Stop Hating Your Resume.

That investment will pay off, in spades. Aren’t you worth it?

End Note: if you have tried to write your resume or realize that you can’t or don’t want to, I do welcome you to check out my business site: Career Polish to find out what it is I do, why I love career branding so much and how I can help you.

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As a triple certified as a Professional Resume Writer, Career Coach and Social Media Brand Analyst I help leaders break out of a suffocating corporate existence and into a position and place that renews their brilliance. I get people unstuck in their careers.
Click here – CareerPolish.com – to find out more about we can work together to get you unstuck

What Makes You So Darn Special?

Hi, I’m Lisa, I’m a learning junkie.

I look at learning as a continual investment in myself. I am in a perpetual state of evolution. Constant learning by reading, taking classes, experimenting and being blessed with influencers.

I have an amazing tribe of mentors and coaches – shout out to Lorraine, Jennifer, Amy, Deb and Michelle. These personal influencers enrich my life. They elevate me as a person and as a contributor of value to others. They keep me grounded, encourage me, gently point out stupid things I do and get my sarcasm.

There is one constant that every single one of them has told me, on more than one occasion: I am harder on myself than anyone else. Duh.

The aforementioned stupid things I do, if they point it out, they do so in a supportive, kind way. When I think about it, I tell myself something like “well, you’re a blooming idiot.” Here is a great example of this:

During a discussion, I made the comment that I should have known how to do something, which I had never done before. To which she replied, “Why?” I thought because it was similar to something else. She said it was unfair to myself to expect to know something I have never done.

In replaying that conversation, my comment to myself was, “What makes you so darn special? Like you should know all the answers without ever doing it before?”

We all need to stop thinking we are so darn special that our expectations for ourselves exceed anything we would expect of others. Especially when it is setting us up for failure.

My son was having a struggle with something the other day. This would be something his dad could relate to better than I, but his dad passed last year. I tried the supportive, kind way – he wasn’t getting it.

Then I asked him if his dad was in the same situation, what would he tell his dad? His response was a healthier option and completely different than what he was doing. My next comment was, “If you would give that advice to your dad, why wouldn’t you take it yourself?” Light bulb.

Chief and I had a conversation about working out. He had completed a goal and was disappointed that he had not subsequently gone far enough beyond it. He had extremely high goals set for each next step. When I asked him what goals he would recommend for me if I did the same thing, there was a huge discrepancy. The goal was significantly lower and prefaced with “any improvement is great”.

My question to him was, “why is a small improvement great for me, but a failure for you?” Light bulb.

I am all about setting high goals, I’ve got three on my plate right now. What I am not all about is beating yourself up when you feel like you are failing, when in reality you are not.

Here’s how to do a healthy pivot if you’re getting burned out or feeling a bit of failure creeping in on a big goal:

1. Know your why. Reconnect with the reason you have this goal in the first place. Your why is the primary driver of any goal.

2. Give someone else advice. If you can, ask yourself what would you advise someone else to do if they had the same goal. If you cannot divorce yourself from this situation, ask a friend to role play this with you.

3. Break it down. Big goals are not achieved in one fell swoop. Take a look at it and break it down to its most simple components. Can you break down actions into monthly steps? Great, now break them down into weekly actions, then daily. One step at a time. No step is too small as long as it is a step forward.

4. Learn from going backwards. Yes, I just said any step forward is progress, but the reality is that you might go backwards a time or two. Fantastic. Hidden within that is an amazing opportunity to learn something. It might be about the goal, the process, the action or yourself. Write that stuff down!

5. Write it out. This is the best motivator I know. Track your goals, actions and – this is big – your accomplishments. This will help you keep track of how far you have come and that you are, indeed, moving forward.

6. Celebrate it all. Don’t wait until the realization of the big goal to celebrate. Recognize and praise yourself for the ‘little’ victories as well. If you don’t feel like you moved any closer to your goal this week, take a look. You completed every one of the daily activities you set out to do – hooray! Ice-cream with sprinkles for you!

7. Relax. Make sure you bring balance to your life. Goals are awesome, but they are not the end point. Often, they are not the most rewarding, it is the journey that gives us the most delight and satisfaction. Take a break. Recharge your batteries by engaging with people, nature, art, food, exercise, or meditation. Keep yourself at peak performance by taking care of you as a whole.

You know what, you are special. We all are. But you are not so darn special that you should hold yourself to insane standards that you would not encourage for anyone else. Remember that Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. To keep our own expectations from get out of hand let’s add: Do not do unto yourself as you would not do unto others.

Start today. What is one thing that you can celebrate today? I didn’t ask what big thing can you celebrate, I asked what is one thing you can celebrate. I haven’t tackled any of my big goals today. But off the top of my head I can think of three things so far today that I can celebrate. I did my three miles on the treadmill this morning. Dinner is already prepared so it will be a hassle-free night tonight. I had an amazing coaching session and one action suggestion I offered was of great value to my client.

Now it’s your turn.

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As a triple certified as a Professional Resume Writer, Career Coach and Social Media Brand Analyst I help leaders break out of a suffocating corporate existence and into a position and place that renews their brilliance. I get people unstuck in their careers.
Click here – CareerPolish.com – to find out more about we can work together to get you unstuck

Be Like Ray – Know & Appreciate Your Legacy

 

What do you think of when you hear “The Wizard of Oz”?

“I’ll get you my pretty, and your little dog too!”

“Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore”

Or do you start singing “If I only had a brain….”

I loved the Scarecrow. The whole time he longed for a brain, but he was the one throughout their journey that pretty much had all the ideas!

Ray Bolger, the wonderful actor who portrayed the Scarecrow was once asked if he was upset that he did not receive royalties for the movie. His response was wonderful:

I have something better, immortality

That is his legacy, and what a legacy it is.

Now is the time of year that many take stock of the ending year, then look to the next with enthusiasm and perhaps a new sense of purpose. If you are one to make resolutions, might I suggest that they be based on this one question: what is your legacy? Or better yet – what do you want your legacy to be?

A summary of a dictionary definition of legacy is a gift or something left behind to others. What are you giving to others, what are you leaving them with, what gifts are you giving them?

As a contributor – what gifts are you giving your teammates and your clients?

As a leader – what gifts are you giving your team and your organization?

As an individual – what gifts are giving to your family and friends?

Your legacy is not limited to one aspect of your life. It spans across all those that you come into contact with and beyond. The most important starting point is this question:

What are you giving yourself.

If you do not take care of yourself, treat yourself as valuable, how can you add value to anyone else?

Start refocusing on you by practicing these attributes:

  • Know thyself – be honest about your strengths, set goals and believe in a vision.
  • Encourage and uplift – Set stretch goals and provide encouragement and a roadmap for achieving them.
  • Communicate clearly – let there be no ambiguity in what you expect and what you will do. Stay focused.
  • Set boundaries – be clear on what is acceptable and what is not and but your bite behind your bark.
  • Appreciate fully – genuinely give thanks when thanks are due. Celebrate victories no matter how small and use them to inspire.
  • Be human – ask for help when needed, don’t get tripped up on mistakes – use them to learn. Empathize. Take a step back to look at the whole picture. Remember you are not superhuman – great things are achieved with collaboration.
  • Believe – in yourself, in the greater good, in your vision, in others, in the possibilities.

Practice these with yourself and you can then transition them to others. In doing so, you will leave a truly great legacy.

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A little about me: I do what I love: help leaders break out of a suffocating corporate existence and into a position and place that renews their brilliance.

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

Click here – CareerPolish – to find out more about how we can help you.

★ To get all my latest articles, click the “Yes Please!” button on the right ★

Yes, Virginia, the holidays are a good time to expand your career opportunities

 

Whoever said it is a bad idea to job search during the holidays is a Grinch. Holidays, although having their own challenges, are a fantastic time to put a little kick in building your network and boost your career search.

The downsides are that during this time it might be difficult to get all decision makers together at one time. This only means that things could be delayed. No worries. You can keep in contact, send a little holiday cheer and reach right back out after everyone has returned to the office.

Budget considerations seem to be the excuse the Grinches use to not job search. Bah Humbug! If it is a budget issue that they can’t hire by the end of the year, it only means a bit of a delay into the new year. As my son would say, “it’s not that heavy.” It gives you time to build relationships and prepare for the upcoming submission or interview.

The other side of the coin of budget considerations is there are some jobs that are “use it or lose it”. Meaning if they do not fill them by the end of the year, that position will be written off. In that situation, recruiters work doubly hard to fill those positions in the last few weeks before the new year. They have to, too many people are not active because they listened to a Grinch.

Reach out, connect and keep your ears open for these opportunities.

The holidays also provide ample reasons to get out there and network! Maybe you aren’t invited to your dream company’s holiday party, but that doesn’t mean you can’t hobnob with your future coworkers. Charitable organizations give plenty of opportunities for a twofer: to expand your network and support a worthy cause.

You may not have to work very hard to find these opportunities, sometimes they come to you. Case in point: I was called for a donation/tickets to a fun, youth-focused benefit concert – thank you Memphis Firefighters!

Many friends and family have holiday get-togethers. This is a wonderful opportunity to drop little nuggets. Often attendees will reminisce over the past year or look forward. This is a great time to casually mention your career goals or job search. You can have fun with this: “All I want for Christmas is an introduction to Chris Kringle at Holiday Central Company.” Or if you aren’t in the mood for a little corny, maybe say that you have had a great year and next year you are excited to hit one of your goals – to move up into that Reindeer Logistics position.

Be of good cheer and get out there! When attending events be your best elf. Go with the intention of not only meeting specific or new people but with the purpose of providing value to them. It is a golden rule of networking, but worth repeating.

Don’t forget that any interaction is a networking opportunity. Out shopping for someone on your list or for yourself? Oh come on, I can’t be the only one that sees a major deal score on something I already wanted so I just happen to pick it up while I’m out…. While out in the holiday eating and shopping frenzy, talk to your fellow elves. You never know where these conversations can lead. I’m always happily distracted by conversations with strangers during crazy holiday mayhem.

The holidays lend themselves for more interaction. Except on Black Fridays, most people seem to be filled with more cheer. When you see all the opportunities around you, the holidays can be the time when you crush your networking goals.

 

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A little about me: I do what I love: help leaders break out of a suffocating corporate existence and into a position and place that renews their brilliance.
As the Founder and Principle of Career Polish, Inc., a national career personal branding firm, I am an Executive Brand Strategist, Resume Writer and Career Coach. I work with individual clients, companies, leadership and teams to identify, strengthen and effectively communicate their brand, engagement, commitment and most importantly – their value – by learning and leveraging personal branding as applied to LinkedIn, resumes, networking, communication, relationship management, presence and influence.
Click here – CareerPolish.com – to find out more about how we can help you.
★ To get all my latest articles, click the “Yes Please!” button on the right ★

You made me delete you, I didn’t want to do it…..

 

About a week ago I accepted a LinkedIn connection request. As is my practice, I responded by thanking them for the connection to open the door to conversation.

Today, I shut that door. Locked it. Deadbolts. No vacancy sign. Moved without a forwarding address.

Every once in a while I will have a new connection respond to my door opening with a sales spiel. Ugh. Although slightly perturbing, I usually just delete it and move on.

The sales spiel is immediately discoverable because it starts with “Hi Lisa K.”

I do not go by Lisa K. I use the “K” professionally to delineate myself. Lisa McDonald is a more common name than one might think. My middle name is Kaye. The only person who ever called me Lisa Kaye is my dad. To get my attention – which it did.

Often starting your message with ‘Lisa K’ shows a formatted list that imports names.

If it is a persona message, I get it, you don’t know me. You probably don’t know about the “K” thing. It is forgivable. In this case, I gently guide my conversation partner by signing off any future messages with simply “Lisa”.

Barraging someone you just connected with to sell them is a big no-no in networking. LinkedIn is networking. The foundation of networking is relationships. To build a solid business relationship it takes three aspects:

– Cultivate interest

– Motivation to help each other

– Establishing trust and credibility

These three things take time. Appropriate time is not five minutes or a day after I accepted your connection request.

For Mr. Happy, I deleted his first salely message and moved on. Then a few days later, I got another “Hi Lisa K.!”

Now, I’ve gone from perturbed to annoyed. Yes sir, I saw your first message and no, I was not interested. Go away.

Today I moved from annoyed to “oh for crying out loud”. There was no cultivating of interest. I have no desire for you to help me. Your credibility is completely shot. Not only are you spamming, you did not read my profile.

You see what this gentleman was selling was branding. More specifically LinkedIn branding. He was promising he could take my lackluster profile and make me a social media sensation. Hey, guess what I do? That’s right – branding. Guess where I focus – right again – LinkedIn among other places! Go figure!

So in the spirit of the holidays, this ‘branding genius’ (his sentiment, not mine) went to my naughty list. Marketing yourself to a colleague using an outside our industry message is not genius-like behavior.

Let us learn from Mr. Happy. Your network is a sacred thing; you should treat it as such. Nurture it, care for it, protect it, give to it and it will flourish like flowers in the Spring. Spam it and disrespect it and it will die. Think dead of winter with no sunlight. (I had to follow my flower theme) It is that simple. In the end, the quality of connections and contacts, not the quantity, will yield a beautiful garden. (I couldn’t end without another flower reference!)

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A little about me: I do what I love: help leaders break out of a suffocating corporate existence and into a position and place that renews their brilliance.

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

Click here – CareerPolish.com – to find out more about how we can help you.

★ To get all my latest articles, click the “Yes Please!” button on the right ★

How To Stop RBF From Killing Your Communication

 

“Body language is fluff.”
I was told this recently. I didn’t say a word. My responding body language to that statement said it all, and the message was heard loud and clear by this person. They immediately started backtracking and justifying their statement.
The irony of that was not lost on me. Here they were telling me that body language is not important yet changed their tune to pseudo-apologetic mode in response to my body language.
You’re right, fluff.  Not important at all. Using my not so subtle sarcastic voice
My passion about body language came from a fascination and a necessity.
The necessity came from the fact that I have a Scarlett O’Hara Resting Bitch Face (RBF). This face is when you look mean, unintentionally, when your face is expressionless. During an interview coaching exercise, I accidentally slipped into this when working with a client. She stopped midsentence, laughed a bit and told me that I scared her because I looked really mean.  Oops.
The fascination came when I realized by just changing my body language I could elicit different responses from people.  I elicited a change in the conversation by employing the RBF in the above conversation.
This phenomenon happens more for women than men, although there are some men that naturally have RBF. Think Kanye West and Jeremy Renner.  Jeremy Renner is completely aware of this, as he discusses in this funny clip from the Graham Norton Show: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i50-Rr6ZgHQ   He states that he is quite comfortable with his resting face because, as he says, he built a career on it.
That will not work out so well for the rest of us who aren’t playing Avengers. Research using face recognition software has stated that this look registers twice the amount of emotion as compared to a neutral face.
However, the emotion registers as contempt, which is one of the worst and most dangerous emotions for communication.  Contempt is a mix of disgust and anger, two things that can destroy any relationship.   As businesses are built on relationships, you don’t want RBF anywhere near the people with whom you interact.
What causes RBF? Many people’s mouths or eyes naturally turn down when at rest. In other words, we are born with it.
Not sure if you suffer from RBF? Do you find people ask you out of the blue:
“Are you okay?”
“Are you mad?”
“Did something happen?”
Or one of my personal favorites – “You should smile more!”
There are a few things you can do if you feel that you are slipping into RBF:
  1. Look up at the person. You might have to tilt your head a slight bit down to do so in but it will open your eyes.
  2. Slightly raise your eyebrows, this naturally opens your eyes a bit.
  3. Open your mouth, this will change the form of and can more easily lead into number four.
  4. Smile slightly. This breaks the downward lines associated with RBF.
As silly as it sounds, look in the mirror to see where you fall on the range of RBF. Then practice the above tips so they feel comfortable and natural. You will then, on command, transition from RBF to engaged face when needed.
Yes, I said as needed.  I have found RBF to come in quite handy when my son is being unruly or someone questions the importance of body language.

 

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I do what I love: help professionals break out of a suffocating job existence and into a career that renews their brilliance.

I am triple certified as a Professional Resume Writer, Social Brand Analyst and Career Coach specializing in Master Level Resume/LinkedIn writing, NLP and Body Language. My clients learn to identify, strengthen and effectively communicate their brand and most importantly – their value – by learning and leveraging personal branding as applied to all aspects of their career, including: LinkedIn, resumes, networking, communication, relationship management, presence, and influence.

Click here – CareerPolish.com – to find out more about how we can help you.

★ To get all my latest articles, click the “Yes Please!” button on the right ★