The Art of Win-Winning in Your Daily Negotiations

toasting

I see a lot of articles about negotiating and the majority focus on salary/benefit negotiations when you are interviewing for a new position. But what about our daily negotiations? We are constantly negotiating during our workday and at home. Anyone who has kids knows they think they are master little negotiators, don’t they?

My son is a constant negotiator. When he was young, I would sometimes encourage it to help him build skills.  More often, my response to “so Mom, instead, how about…” would be a smile and a simple “how about no – just do it.”

I don’t think we recognize how much negotiating we actually do throughout the day and therefore, we lose our power to influence the results.  If you find you are in negotiations with a person or a group of people repeatedly, there is one trick I found that helps sway the results in your favor.  We could easily interchange ‘negotiate’ with ‘influence’ because that is what we are doing.

Know their style, tells and triggers.

I’m going to bring Chief into this – just for illustration. I’ll have to remember to not tell him I published today so he won’t read this….

Chief is the boyfriend. He is awesome.  One thing about him is he is always in command and control at his job. He is a natural leader and has a significant amount of responsibility. He is a master negotiator. Every day he has to negotiate to influence, engage, and get things done.

Chief sometimes forgets that I know him oh so well.  He naturally falls into negotiating patterns.  I know his patterns and tells. There are certain words or phrases that he uses and I know what path he is going to follow.

For example, deciding on a place to eat. I really do think when living with someone the most debated, ambiguous question you ask each other repeatedly is “what do you want/where do you want to go – for dinner.”

Ugh.

I’m not a picky eater, I pretty much love food. Yet there are times that something just doesn’t sound appealing. Nine times out of ten, when Chief asks where I want to go for dinner, he already has something in mind. Why, oh why, won’t he just suggest that instead? You know, a simple, “Hey, do you want to go grab a pizza tonight?” would same so much time. But no. So, again, why?

Because he wants buy-in.  He wants me to think that either it was my decision or feel good about it that we decided together. Uh huh.

Here is the conversation:

Chief: “What do you feel like for dinner tonight?”

Me: “I’m not really in the mood for anything in particular. What about you, what do you feel like?”

Chief: “Oh, I don’t care. What do you think?” (This is my clue to offer a list of suggestions)

Me: “Well, we could do chicken out on the grill, Mexican, or pizza and salad.”

Chief: “Yeah, we could do those or, I was thinking, maybe Elvis’ Italian place

(side note, in Memphis there is an old restaurant where Elvis hung out and got his favorite pizza – BBQ Chicken – they were the first place to create that).

-now at this point, I know – Chief wants Elvis Italian. There are three ways I can proceed. If I am agreeable to Italian, I simply say:

 “Oh, that sounds good, let’s do that.

If I want to play a bit, I will offer some back and forth, knowing I’m going to agree to Italian in the end. Hey, don’t judge. I would say something like:

Yeah, I don’t know, not sure that I’m feeling Italian. And I do love your chicken on the grill…

Chief: “Aw, thanks. Yeah, chicken doesn’t sound bad. I was just thinking Italian since we haven’t had it for a while.”

Yeah, but I didn’t think you really had anything in mind. You know, tacos aren’t sounding bad either.”

I just like stringing it out a bit so either he feels like he ‘won’ or just for fun in watching him try to influence me without coming out and telling me he wants Elvis Italian.

Now, my third option is if I really don’t want Elvis’ Italian Place that night. This option is compromising. This is when knowing what his triggers are and how to weave them into the conversation to reach a compromise. One of his triggers is we are conscious of our eating. We try to keep it light through the week, watch the carbs, fats, and sugars. Then we might splurge on something on the weekend. I use this information to help negotiate or influence for a win-win:

Me: “That sounds good, we haven’t had it for a while…you know, I wonder, since it is going to be pretty heavy if we should save that for this weekend.”

Chief: “ Oh, it is heavy isn’t it? But it just sounded good

Me: “Oh, I agree, it does sound really yummy. How about we do Elvis this weekend and while we are out we can go to Bass Pro to get some fishing stuff for your tournament coming up and tonight we can do ‘light’ Italian at that little bistro where you can get a slice of pizza and I can get that awesome spinach salad. That way, we can save up our splurge for this weekend at Elvis’ Italian place.”

Ding ding ding – we have a winner.

If you are interacting with people on a consistent basis, odds are you are negotiating at some point.  Next time you find yourself in that situation rather than going on auto-pilot, really listen to your conversation. Start recognizing their style and tells while remembering their triggers.  Once you start weaving them into your negotiations, you are going to find a much more agreeable and influential way to communicate.

The other side of that is to be sure to recognize your own patterns. We all have triggers, tells and styles. Self-awareness is such a powerful thing.

 

Writing this article has made me hungry!  I think I might have to suggest Elvis’ Italian for dinner tonight, even though we have chicken marinating.  I wonder how this negotiation will go….

 

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

As the Founder and Principal 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 ★

 

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In Exercise and Resumes, You Have to Work Harder To Get Results

how i look when i run

I’m just going to warn you now, there is a bit of TMI in this article. As a professional storyteller, I find a touch of personal or a unique story makes content – and the point I am trying to get across – more relatable.  I apologize if this is more than you wanted to know, but I promise there is a point and a purpose.

Twenty years ago it was perfectly acceptable in your resume to simply list job duties. It was certainly easier. Just copy a job description and plop it right there in the experience section. It was ‘good enough’ to give the reader an idea of the job.

Yeah, well, twenty years ago I didn’t have to work so damn hard to not look like a marshmallow with toothpicks sticking out.

Here’s the problem, I have a tiny frame that is out of proportion. I have the same length of legs as my sister, who was about three inches taller than me. Somehow the DNA scrunched up my middle section. Translation – any time I put any weight on it goes straight to my gut and I look like a marshmallow.

Twenty years ago I could easily get rid of the marshmallow by cutting out the carbs for about a week and adding a bit of running on the treadmill to my walks and I hate running.   All while still pretty much eating anything I wanted. So not healthy.

Not anymore. This isn’t an age thing, although I am closing in on 50. This is a pre-menopause thing. (and….there is the TMI). Interesting fact – during pre-menopause it is notoriously common for women to put on weight and it goes straight to their midsection. Seriously, Mother Nature, that is like a double whammy to me! Good night, haven’t I suffered enough with hot flashes? Apparently not.

Lucky for me, I live with a workout nut. Chief works out two hours a day, six days a week. I now go to the gym every morning at the ungodly hour of 5 am and spend about an hour on the treadmill. I am using HIT to incorporate running. The good news – my legs are amazingly strong and look as good as they did twenty years ago. The bad news, it wasn’t enough. I was less of a marshmallow but still a marshmallow. So with a redesign of my eating habits and cutting out added sugar, I am slowly whittling away the marshmallow and getting healthier.  But I really miss my full-on sweet tea!

It is taking too long and is a heck of a lot more work than it was twenty years ago, but I will get my results.

Now, how the heck does that relate to resumes? Your resume is out of shape. Those job descriptions plopped in there – they just don’t cut it anymore.

Here’s the problem, they tell the reader what you were hired to do, no one cares what you were hired to do. They care about what you did.

What value did or do you bring to an organization? Anyone can claim that they are great at a certain skill, but can you prove it? You have to prove it. People reading your resume are only going to believe about half of what you say, so you darn well better prove it.

Lucky for you, I’m going to give you a workout regime that can turn that marshmallow into a four pack (I don’t have enough midsection for a six-pack, so we are going for a four pack).

Step one – warm-up: Determine what is important to the reader. What are their challenges or goals?

 

Step two – hours on the resume treadmill: For each bullet, break it down to who you worked with, how you worked with them, what you did and how they benefited.  Now, you will have stories to tell.

 

Step threeweightlifting: Determine your differentials. What makes you good at what you do? Is it your education, approach, skill set – what makes you better than anyone else in doing what you do? What makes you valuable to an employer?

 

Step four – cool down: Intersect the answers from step one with the answers to step three and support with the answers in step two.  That is your sweet spot.

 

Step five – cut the carbs and sugars: Cut, cut, cut your answers. This is what my mentor calls ruthless editing. Anything that is expected, implied or unnecessary – get rid of it. For example “Successfully launched program that generated 25% increase in ….” Get rid of ‘successfully’. It is implied that it is successful by achieving the results.

 

Step six – add the healthy stuff to your diet: Analyze job postings and descriptions to find keywords. Incorporate those into your resume. Mix it up by using the exact words and using them in context with synonyms. ATS systems either read by content (words specifically) or context (meaning). This means that if a keyword is project management, you can use those specific words for content and use ‘oversaw project….” and the context will understand that it is the same as the keywords even if not exact because oversaw is a synonym of managed. (ATS systems are the computer software that companies use to screen resumes).

 

Step seven – power up the impact: Front load your bullets to put the most important piece of information first. If you saved 30% in costs by redesigning a process, which is most important for the reader or in demonstrating your differential? Is it the cost reduction or the process improvement? Whichever is most important put it first.

 

With the work of following these seven steps and your new resume will put your old one to shame and get the healthy results you are looking for in your job search.

 

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

As the Founder and Principal 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 ★

 

The One Question Almost Everyone Asks & Hardly Anyone Answers

Interview - how do they know you are still interested

Building a network, expanding a business, searching for a job or just being neighborly, what is one of the first questions we are asked or ask others?

What do you do?

It seems simple enough and I bet a lot of people would say that they do answer that question. What is your normal response? I’ll bet dollars to donuts it starts with “I’m a …..”

If that is your answer, you are not answering the question. Oh no you are not.

The question is what do you DO, not what is your TITLE.

Titles are boring, snippet summaries. They do not really tell what you do – except in the case of a pediatric neurosurgeon. In that case, yes, it does sum it up nicely.

But for the rest of us not saving the lives of tiny humans, our title does not – or more accurately – should not define us.

What we do is bring value to others in a unique way. It is part of what we are as a person. A title does not reflect a person. It reflects a job.  Many people can have the same title yet be on opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of value, style and ability.

Take me for example. To say I am a resume writer is partially accurate. I do write resumes. I also write LinkedIn profiles. So should I say I am a resume and LinkedIn profile writer? Nope, still just the tip of the iceberg. I also coach and train on networking, leadership, communication, interviewing, negotiation, branding….and let’s not overlook that I do not just work with those who are unemployed. I work with leaders going to the next level, those who want to improve their effectiveness where they are, athletes, coaches, trainers, motivators, entrepreneurs, heads of corporations and more. I build confidence, bring out their inner rock star, support, give a little kick in the toushy when needed, challenge, celebrate… Saying I am a resume writer does not encompass all of that.

Oh, and let’s not forget – there are many others that are resume writers, coaches etc. What makes me different? Well, my work is comprehensive not volume based. I get to know my clients. I don’t rely solely on questionnaires. I really give a damn about my clients and their success. Our work is interactive, they have skin in the game. I am tenacious in getting them to where they want to be. I love what I do and bring fun into the equation. I have real conversations, ask tough questions, support them through the process and the best feeling in the world for me is when someone reads what we have put together and they say, “Holy crap – I’m awesome!”

Replying with “I’m a resume writer” really falls short of all that now doesn’t it?

So what is it that you do? How do you do it better than anyone else? And yes, you do what you do better than anyone else. How? By the way you do the thing you do, maybe by your approach or mindset. Whatever it is that makes you awesome, own it by giving yourself permission to say so. Once you figure that out, NOW you can get down to really answering the question.

So tell me, what do you do?

 

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

As the Founder and Principal 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 ★

 

 

Don’t Let an Assumption Kill Your Job Search or Its Progress

fender bender

 

Chief is going to get a new truck because someone is going to hit his.

Let me clarify two things here. First, Chief is the boyfriend. He is a Chief in the Navy hence the moniker.  He has waned back and forth about getting a new truck. It is time for an upgrade, he’s done a lot of research but yet he hasn’t pulled the trigger just yet.  Second, I am not willing or hoping for this accident; I just noticed a pattern and realized someone hitting his truck will be the catalyst in pushing him into that decision.

Every morning we go to the gym at an ungodly hour. On our way back, we pass a school. Sometimes, if we are running a bit late, we pass by when parents are dropping off their kids early. The road in front of the school bends to the left, which takes us back home.  Immediately before the bend is an entrance on the right into the school. Most people leaving this entrance turn left, crossing in front of us.

I noticed almost every single person leaving the school assumes we are turning into the school and therefore whip out in front of us. We have had several near misses. Even using the turn signal indicating we are turning left, they still whip out there. I can understand the assumption as this is not a well-traveled road and most people would assume the only ones on this road are parents or teachers heading to the school.

This is a dangerous assumption and at some point, I am going to look down from the truck and see the hood of a Nissan stuck in my door.

My brother helped me learn how to spell assume with the little tidbit of “never assume, it makes an ‘ass’ out of ‘u’ and ‘me’”. Yes, I know he didn’t make it up himself, but he was my big brother and one of my heroes so I’m giving it to him.

This tidbit got stuck in my head forever. It has helped me beyond remembering how to spell the word, it has been a sage piece of advice.

I normally find I assume in two situations. One, when I am being lazy.  I make a quick evaluation of facts, act quickly to save time and if I was wrong, telling the other person that ‘I just assumed’ is my half-hearted apology.   The second is when I am fearful. I assume I didn’t hear back because they didn’t like me.

Some things I think are in our general nature to assume. Face it, if you see a seven-foot tall man walking down the street – doesn’t the word ‘basketball’ immediately come into your mind?  People make assumptions about me all the time based on my size and height. That’s fine. It’s pretty harmless.

But when you make assumptions during your job search, it can be like looking down at a Nissan buried in your door.

Just because you had a great interview, do not assume you are a shoe-in for the job. Follow up with a thank you maintaining professionalism and interest.  They may be assuming you are no longer interested in the position because you have not expressed a continued interest after the interview.

Just because you have not heard back from the interviewers, do not assume you did not get the job.  There may be an internal snag in the process or the decision makers have to focus on another priority at the moment. You just do not know.  Reach back out respectfully and professionally to remind them of your interest and ask if you can provide any additional information for their consideration.

Just because you landed the job, do not assume that you know everything to know about it. Every job, even if it is a lateral move, is an opportunity for growth and learning. You are the new kid; take a look at this environment with fresh eyes. Take it all in to see where you can improve yourself or the system.

Just because you are not employed, due to termination, downsizing or your choice to leave, do not assume this is a negative for the next employer. Life happens. Companies downsize and people are let go. Sometimes we recognize it was a horrible place to work. As mentioned before, every job is an opportunity. Find the positives in that last one and speak from that perspective. Do not bad-mouth anyone or any company. It comes across as bitter.

Just because you are on either end of the age scale – too young or too old, do not assume you won’t or can’t get hired. Everyone has valuable qualities to bring to an organization. Youth brings fresh perspective, a willingness to learn, adaptability, more of a mindset that anything is possible. Age bring maturity, life experience, ability to stay calm during storms having been through them before and patience. 

Just because you have only done this one thing throughout your career, do not assume you cannot change careers. The skills you developed in that one thing are probably a good match to another field. Take a step back and analyze what it takes to do the new thing. What are the underlying skills needed to complete the tasks? Communication, relationship building, working with cross-functional teams, organization, some financial aspects? Now take a look back at your old thing and see how you used these skills. That is your common denominator and the value you bring to the new field, industry, company.

 

Give yourself a break. Before you act upon that assumption, take a moment to ask yourself where is it coming from. Is it a bit of slacking or a bit of fear? If either of these are the root cause, take a deep breath and either ask the question or take a more bold action.  This can save you a lot of headache, heartache and damage to your vehicle.

 

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A little about me: I do what I love: help professionals break out of a suffocating job existence and into a career, 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 Didn’t Come Off an Assembly Line, Your Resume Shouldn’t Look or Sound Like You Did

hamburger assembly

 

The two hardest parts of writing your resume (or any branding piece) is making it sound like you and describing what you do.

When wanting to convey what you do, the default in describing what you do is to rely on your job description.  After all, it describes your job, right? Eh. Maybe.  One problem with using a job description is that it only tells what you were hired to do, not what you did.

The other problem with using a job description is it does not reflect you.  There may be many, many other people that can use the same job description so there is no differential.

Think about McDonald’s.

McDonald’s is known as being a beast of systems.  There is a system in place for everything they do.  Visit a McDonald’s in Indiana and you will be greeted with the same environment and food as a McDonald’s in Tennessee.

In theory, yes.

But have you ever been to a good McDonald’s and a bad McDonald’s? There are two McDonald’s near me that exist within 10 miles of each other but could not be more worlds apart.

The closest McDonald’s is what I call Bad McDonald’s. It literally would take me less than two minutes to run up there and get a half cut sweet tea (a weakness of mine). Yet I will gladly drive 15 minutes further to go to the good McDonald’s.

Why?  The drink is the same from the same company – what makes good McDonald’s worth the extra drive?

The way they do the things they do.

Bad McDonald’s

Bad McDonald’s is dirty. I have seen in the last 12 months only one employee cleaning and that is the young man who is assigned to the outside of the restaurant.  He’s a worker. There is often trash on the floor throughout the inside and on the drink station.  The crew is on a continual rotation of new people whom I have yet to seen smile. I have never seen them trained, but often barked at for not moving fast enough. It is hard to move fast when you don’t know where you are supposed to go or how to operate the register.

It has a vibe of depression.  Orders are often returned for being wrong, young staff is yelled at, the inside is dirty and the management do not seem to care.  I once walked in and saw the manager eating a Pizza Hut pizza in the dining room. One of the newbies had a question so the manager walked behind the counter, looked at the register, shrugged her shoulders and said, “I donno” and went back out to the dining room – all while carrying a half-eaten slice of pizza in their hand!  I left.

Good McDonald’s

Good McDonald’s is spotless inside and out. There is always a worker floating in the dining area to great every person, pick up trash and check on patrons. When ordering you are greeted with an authentic friendly hello and how are you today. Orders are taken quickly. The entire crew works together, smoothly, never seeming to be unfazed no matter how busy it is. They are a well-oiled machine who seems to really enjoy working together and what they do.

Think about your job.  Other people may do the same job that you do, but which McDonald’s are you?

The differential is going to be how you describe what you do, using words that reflect who you are.

Think about the tasks at your position. How do you approach or complete them in a way that is different – dare I say better – than anyone else? What about how you work with other people? What makes life easier for others in working with you rather than someone else?

When you describe these things, use words that feel right to you.  If you are high energy and bring that to the workforce using your powers for good, use words like revamp, champion, launched – words that resonate with your energy level.

In a world of McDonald’s, find a way to differentiate yourself.  Demonstrating your value in your voice is going to be the determining factor for that employer to want to go the extra miles to make you a part of their winning crew.

 

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A little about me: I do what I love: help professionals break out of a suffocating job existence and into a career, 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 ★

 

Why Dumping a Resume/Bio in Your LinkedIn Summary is Killing Potential Conversations

road block stop

 

Do you know why someone is reading your LinkedIn profile? They want to get a sense of you: who you are, what you do and what you enjoy doing – in a professional context.

I heard it said that LinkedIn is a virtual handshake.  I think that is perfect.  Although it is a huge, digital platform, it is very business-personal because it is a one-on-one conversation between you and the person reading your profile.

The reader is imagining what your voice sounds like, how tall you are and all the little particulars about you based on the words you choose.  They are going beyond putting together the face with the name, they are filling in details.

The reader can look at your experience section or perhaps they have read your resume.  That is the business-business side of you.  LinkedIn is the business-personal side.  This is where your personality should shine through.  Instead of assumed I statements on the resume, you are speaking directly to the reader using I and me.  (i.e. resume: “Manage team of 30” – LinkedIn: “I manage a team of 30”)

You are beginning a business, networking relationship with the reader by digitally extending your hand and using your summary to say, “Hey, nice to meet you, let me tell you a little bit about myself”.  You are speaking directly to them, again, a one-on-one conversation.

Writing about yourself is hard.  I get it.  Even though branding is my passion and business, I cringe every time I have to put something together for myself when I lead training or for a speaking engagement.

The easy thing is popping your bio or resume into your LinkedIn. Just because it is easy does not mean that is the best plan.  For your experience section, it is doable – just remember to insert the I’s and me’s so it is more of a conversation and not so standoffish.

However, for your summary, dropping in your bio or resume is a terrible plan.

Bad to Worse

Imagine you are at a networking event.  Go ahead, close your eyes to visualize – no, wait, if you do that you won’t be able to get the rest of this.  Scratch that.  Keep reading and imagine an event with 25 people or so.  It is business professional environment, pretty lively with everyone getting to know each other.

Now imagine a professional looking person walking towards you and extending their hand, introducing themselves at Pat.  You tell them “Nice to meet you Pat, so tell me about yourself, what you do.”

Now imagine this response:

“I have 15 years’ experience as a financially savvy, customer experience-oriented Operations Manager with a passion for success.  I have proven success in process efficiency in manufacturing and am proficient in Windows, Access, PowerPoint and Excel.”

Did you stop listening at customer-experience-oriented? Probably, because that is not normally how people communicate in a face-to-face, relaxed business environment.  It is boring, it is memorized, it is robotic and not a person.

This is the resume dump in your summary. The distance puts up roadblocks in starting a conversation.

Let’s set the stage again for a different response:

Professional Pat comes over, handshake giving their name. You say: “Nice to meet you Pat, so tell me about yourself, what you do.”

“Pat has 15 years’ experience as a financially savvy, customer experience-oriented Operations Manager with a passion for success.  Pat has proven success in process efficiency in manufacturing and am proficient in Windows, Access, PowerPoint and Excel.”

Whoa!  Wait, what? Who is Pat? I thought I was talking to Pat but is Pat talking about a different Pat?  It feels like a SNL skit.  When I hear someone who talk about themselves in third person little buzzers and flashing lights go off in my head and I look for the quickest exit possible.

This is the bio dump in your summary.  This goes beyond roadblocks into the road was swallowed by a sink hole.

Do not take the easy way in dropping into your LinkedIn summary.  Take a few minutes to ask yourself:

  1. Who do I want to read my profile?
  2. What is important to them?
  3. What do I want them to know about me?

Write the answers to these questions down.  Then say it out loud as if you were standing in front of that person in a business, casual environment.

That, my friends, is your summary and one that will start great conversations!

 

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A little about me: I do what I love: help professionals break out of a suffocating job existence and into a career, 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 ★

Stop overlooking the one BLARING way your LinkedIn is hurting your job search

incognito

 

Incognito.  What a great word and one that is fun to say.  The dictionary defines incognito as:

incognito [in-kog-nee-toh, in-kog-ni-toh]

Adjective: having one’s identity concealed, as under an assumed name, especially to avoid notice or formal attentions.

Adverb: with the real identity concealed: to travel incognito.

Noun, plural incognitos: a person who is incognito, the state of being incognito, the disguise or character assumed by an incognito.

There is a lot of incognito in my world.  Many are looking for that next great step in their career while they are still employed.  They are performing an incognito job search.  They do not post their resume on job boards.  They communicate with their networks in a selective and professional manner so not to raise suspicion.  They even let companies that they contact know that they are performing a confidential search.

Very incognito.  Very super-secret, James Bond-ish  and slick cool.  Bravo incognito people!

But why – oh why, oh why, oh why are you blaring your intent on LinkedIn?

Oh no, you are not posting that you are looking for a job but your profile screams it!

Here are the two most common ways people subconsciously or inadvertently announce to the LinkedIn world they are looking for a job:

  1. Your summary sounds like a resume
  2. You make statements that one would make when looking for a job.

LinkedIn is not your resume

If your summary starts with “Dedicated Operations professional with over 15 years’ experience driving blah, blah, blah” your LinkedIn is a resume.  Don’t do this.  LinkedIn is a one-on-one conversation with the person/persons you want to read your profile.  If you talk in ‘resume’ language you kill the conversation – and you sound like you are looking for a job.

When you have a one-on-one conversation with another person, do you speak for yourself in the third person?

“Hi Peter, how are you today?”

“Peter is well today, how are you?”

No!  You do not talk like that to other people so why – oh, why, oh why, oh why are you using the third person in your LinkedIn profile?  Stop that.  It sounds weird and freaky.

Job searching statements

Statements within your LinkedIn profile that tell all your experience and value and how you look forward to bringing that to an employer are job search statements.  Great when you are openly looking for a job.  Bad when you have a job and are looking for a new job.

Here’s what those statements convey to the reader, in the words of my step-son Jesse, “once a poop-eater, always a poop-eater.”  He and I saw my little dog Lexi eat poop in the backyard.  A couple of days later she jumped up in his lap to give him kisses.  He held her at arm’s length saying she might have eaten poop.  I told him that she had been inside with me and had not, he responded with, “I don’t care, once a poop eater, always a poop eater. I’m not getting kisses from her.”

The meaning: if you will blatantly look for a job while employed with your current employer, you will do so when you work for them.  It is also disrespectful to your current employer.

The super-easy quick fix

Talk to your audience the same way you would in a business, casual professional environment.  Tell them where you are, what you do, how you bring value and how your past contributes to that value.

This will show respect for your company and allow you to cast more light on your skills, abilities and strengths in a positive, business manner.  It will also make you sound like a happy employee.  No one cherry picks the grumpy or unhappy employees.

Take a few minutes and read your profile – not as yourself, but as a potential employer.  Do you see any red flags?  If you do, they already have – time to fix them!

 

Need more help? Here is an article that will be helpful in cleaning up your profile:  The 2 Step Process to Write Your Best LinkedIn Profile.  Or reach out and let’s talk about how to make you less ‘yelling from the rooftops’ and more James Bond-ish.

 

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A little about me: I do what I love: help professionals break out of a suffocating job existence and into a career, 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 ★

 

Before They Find You on LinkedIn, Make Sure You Are Worth Finding – An Overview

Be found on LinkedIn

 

In case you didn’t know, LinkedIn is kind of a big deal.  It is a great networking and business building tool.  It is a phenomenal tool for those who desire to make a change in their career.  According to a survey by career website Jobvite, 93% of hiring managers search LinkedIn for recruits. That bears repeating:

 

93% of hiring managers search LinkedIn for recruits

 

If you are having a career itch and not sure what you need to do – I think that statistic points you in the direction of LinkedIn. However, just being on LinkedIn is not enough.  You need to accomplish two things: be found and create interest.

Be Found

Title me: I am not a fan of titles; however, they are a default search criteria.  Make sure you list your current and past positions, times and companies in the experience section.

Not being a fan of titles, I would caution you to not depend on titles alone.  A title does not convey your value – it is your job to convey your value.  Leverage the space in the experience section and summary to demonstrate value.  More on this in a bit.

Use keywords: do not let this freak you out.  I know there is a lot of emphasis on keywords – especially in this very ATS system driven world – but take a step back.  Look at your industry, position and desired next steps – what are the keywords that you know?  If you boil it down, there probably aren’t as many as you fear.

Do a little research, look up profiles of those in the position you desire (if a move) or in your position (if a lateral).  Search job boards for open positions or job descriptions.  Then compare.

A super simple way to compare different sources of information is to use online tools like WordCounter.com. Simply copy and paste the job description or profile into the box, click on “No” to exclude small words like “it” and “the”, decide if you want words grouped by root word or variations and select how many words on your list (25-200). Bam! You are done.  You can then compare the results across the board to get a sense of the most commonly used words to identify keywords!

Write smart: It is as important to have keywords in your profile as it is to use them correctly.  Use them fluidly in your sentences throughout your summary, experience, title section etc.  If you have difficulty incorporating a lot of keywords, never fear – use a “Strengths” or similarly titled section at the end of your summary to list out those keywords.

Your value: Your title does not convey your value, nor does your job duties.  Those are things that you were hired to do.  Potential employers do not care what you were hired to do, they care what you did or do.  Be active. Tell them who you work with, how you work with them, what you do and how someone benefits from this.  It transitions a mere job duty into a demonstration of value.  It also allows you to tell your story without feeling or sounding like you are bragging.

Create Interest

Now that you are showing up on someone’s radar – are you worth the look?  This is where you need to create interest.  Here is the second area I believe a lot of people struggle with their LinkedIn profile.  What seems to help the most is to understand the difference between your resume and your LinkedIn profile.

Different conversations: Your resume is an arm’s length conversation.  You do not know who is going to read it, it is written in a different style of writing, it uses the assumed “I” and it just sounds weird to read out loud.

Your LinkedIn is a one-on-one conversation with the person(s) you want to read your profile. Do not write your profile for everyone, you do not care if all 460+ million members read it.  We will touch back on this in just a moment, back to the conversation.  Think about your summary as though you were sitting at a coffee house with someone from that group and they asked you to tell them about yourself.  How you answer that in a business, casual environment is basically your summary.

Put you in there: This is where people want to see more of YOU.  They can read or ask for your resume, they want to see you in your LinkedIn.  The beauty of the summary is twofold: it is limited to 2,000 characters so you have to be strategic and not given the chance to write a novel. Second, you get to say anything you want!  Bring in unique things about you that you want them to know about you – as long as it is important to them.

Who is reading: This leads us back to knowing who you want to read your profile. Answering this question is critical to determine the answer to the second most important question: what is important to them?  The answers to these two questions will drive your content.

What’s important: In your desired next position what are the metrics for outstanding performance, what is going on in the industry, what are some challenges of the industry/company, what do they need the most etc.  Being armed with this information, you can position yourself as the solution in an engaging manner that incorporates you into your LinkedIn making them want to reach out to you.  You have the skills/abilities/knowledge/experience they need and you are a real person – bingo!

Keep momentum: LinkedIn is not a one and done.  Once you have your profile, or even while working on it, you must be active to raise the chances of being found.  Activity raises you higher in the results.  Don’t fret over this, you do not have to spend hours on LinkedIn every day to make a difference.  Just a few minutes throughout the day will do it.  Connect to invitations, send invitations to connect, share content, join groups and contribute.  Do this a few minutes at a time throughout the day and, with the right content, you will start creeping up that results page.

It is work: Is there some research involved in writing a searchable and readable LinkedIn profile? Yes!  Is there a lot of rewriting? Heck Yes! The first round you might get the hang of what is important to the position they want.  The second round you start bringing in how you are a solution.  The third round you start bringing in their personality. The fourth round you realize it is way too darn long! The fifth round you ruthlessly edit to make sure it covers all the important points, sounds like you, offers those keywords and meets the space limit.

Being found and understood is worth all that work.   Just remember these key points:

  • Complete your profile: names, dates, titles etc.
  • Use keywords: in all areas of your LinkedIn: summary, experience, title etc.
  • Know your audience: Know who you are talking to and what is important to them
  • Have a conversation: talk to your audience as though they were sitting across the table from you
  • Speak their language: demonstrate how you solve their problems
  • Be active: respond, share, reach out and connect – this builds your network and raises you up on the results pages

 

Here is another article that you might find helpful in vamping up your profile: 5 Ways Your LinkedIn Profile is Killing Your Personal Brand and How to Fix Them

Of course I would be remiss if I did not mention that if all this seems too overwhelming or time consuming for you, well, that is what I am here for!

 

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A little about me: I do what I love: help professionals break out of a suffocating job existence and into a career, 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 ★

 

 

Don’t Let Anyone Tell You What You SHOULD Be – Be What You Want

boy superman

 

When I was in college studying Criminal Justice, I wasn’t really sure what I was going to do with it, maybe become an attorney or work in a forensics lab.  Although I didn’t’ know, I was given plenty of suggestions.

My brother squelched the attorney thought (he was right) and my dad said I should be a Park Ranger. Wait, what? Now I love the outdoors and the fishing/hiking trips my family took but to go all in?  That one really took me and my mom for a loop.  I think he was suggesting that because he was an avid fisherman and outdoors guy and having a daughter who was a Park Ranger could be beneficial to see more national parks.

Needless to say, I did not become a Park Ranger or an attorney.

I was reminded of this quirky family story the other day when I got an unexpected email. The sender was super excited to tell me about the jobs listed within the email for which I was a perfect match! These positions included:

  • Facilities Coordinator
  • Administrative Assistant
  • Team Leader- Electronic Monitoring
  • Trial Attorney
  • Concierge
  • Project Manager

I am not making those up.  How in the world am I qualified to be a Trial Attorney? Seriously? I thought about it once, but really? But this email got me to thinking about ‘advice’.

Sometimes we get stuck where we are and are not sure what we want to do next or even what we want to be when we grow up. That is when we ask for advice. In this moment of doubt about ourselves or our career, we may start giving other people’s opinions more credence than our own. Stop that.

One of the most important and often underutilized or recognized tools in job searching, career changing, or really life is your gut. Listen to it. Listen to it more than you do anyone else.

It is okay not to know what to do next.  There is nothing wrong with that, it is normal. Just stay in that place for a bit and instead of asking everyone else first, ask yourself: what do you want to do.  Notice I did not say what are you qualified to do, what kind of job do you think you could get – no, what do you want to do?

Do not get caught up in the “I have only ever done this” or “I am not qualified to do that”. What do you want to do? When you acknowledge it, does it feel right in your gut? Great, that is your starting point.  Now you can start planning.  Look at your transferable skills, how to they match up?  How do you break into that field? Is there a lower level that your skills match up with to gain the experience? Is there training or education that you can earn? Where there is a will, there is a way. You just need a North to set your compass.

It may not happen in a day or week or month, it may take over a year or so; but having a goal that rings true to you is worth pursuing.

I am not saying do not ask advice, it is wonderful to get the input of our friends, family and others. Yet we need to take it in with a filter. If someone suggests you try a whole new avenue in your career, instead of just going with it, ask them why.  Maybe they see something in you that you have not seen before or in yourself.  In that situation, fantastic – they are helping you learn more about yourself.

If they can’t give you a solid reason, take it with a grain of salt, smile and thank them.

This is your path to create and we continue to create it throughout our entire career.  It is not a one and done so take your time. Spend time listening to your gut, intuition, the little voice – whatever you want to call it.  Remember your filters when soliciting advice from others and above all else – enjoy the process of change and discovery!

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A little about me: I do what I love: help professionals break out of a suffocating job existence and into a career, 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 Keep Your Foot Out Of Your Mouth When Interviewing

Foot in Mouth

Let’s face it – interviewing is no fun.  I could say that in a clearer and more colorful way, but my mother reads all my articles so I am being nice.

It is nerve racking and I always equate it to dating. Before my boyfriend I hated dating. It was no fun.  It was torturous having thoughts of:  

“Am I making the right impression, will he like me, will he call me back, do I want him to call me back, do we have anything in common, do I look alright, did I spill something on myself, have I made a complete fool of myself…” all in the first five minutes of your first date.

Interviewing is really the same thing. You are hoping to make the right impression and a good connection. If you research interviewing, you will find almost overwhelmingly everyone will tell you to research and practice. 

This article is not about preparation or speaking to your abilities and attributes as they align with the job or company.  This article is about keeping your foot out of your mouth when trying to establish a connection.  If you want help on preparing and nailing the interview, here is an article I wrote for Recruiter.com:  Interview Like a Pro 10 Tips to Boost Your Confidence.

We want the interviewer to like us, right? We try to find common ground or a spark that we can have a conversation and make that connection.  But sticking your foot in your mouth by assuming or saying something (there is not nice way to say this) stupid when talking about something non job related is when all your hard work of research and preparation can come crashing down.

I think examples would help illustrate this point, so let me give you a couple snippets from when I was interviewing candidates.

During one interview of a very professional woman, she noticed a picture of me and my son on my credenza. I don’t remember exactly how she asked, but somehow it lead to me being a single mom and divorced.  Apparently this hit a nerve for her because what I do remember is her saying something very disparaging about ex-husbands (translating to bitter) and tried to get me to agree that all ex-husbands are good for nothings and how lucky we are to get out while we can.  I simply looked at her and said that I was sorry, I could not relate as my ex-husband was one of my best friends.

During an informational interview a young man was trying to bond by sucking up.  I am not a fan of sucking up in general, but this kid was swinging for the fences.  The investment firm I was working for was affiliated with a bank. He told me that he had talked to someone in a certain department of that bank and they knew nothing, and how refreshing it was to talk to someone like me who was an expert and able to give him such great information (gag).  I asked him if he remembered who he talked to at the bank. Since he was trying so hard to impress and had apparently turned off his brain, he told me her name.  I told him that is funny, she is my best friend.

Here are a few ways to keep that foot out of your mouth:

Don’t try so hard.  If you have done your research, you might have been able to find out some information about the interviewer.  Use it like spices in a fine dish – sparingly, gently and appropriately.  You are not trying to be their instant best friend, just establish a rapport.

Be yourself. Do not try to be someone you are not or someone you think they want you to be.  If you create this illusion when you interview, how long do you think you can keep that up if you get the job? 

Be aware of your surroundings. You can’t prepare for everything, so be aware of your surroundings. If you are interviewing in someone’s office, scan it for possible items of conversation.  But do not assume!  They may have something with a college in their office but that does not mean they went to that college.  Maybe their kid went or goes there.  Maybe it is a lost bet.  I worked with a couple of guys – one went to Indiana University the other went to Purdue University – and during any sports season, whoever had the better record, the other had to keep their rival’s memorabilia in their office.

Just don’t. Stay far, clear and galaxies away from talking about anything anywhere near politics or religion.  Just don’t.  That is too dangerous a territory to try to build a bond in this situation.  Just don’t.

If you do find that you start dipping a toe in your mouth, stop.  If I was doing the college rivalry thing in my office and you saw a Purdue pendant which led you to say, “Hey, how about them Boilers!” I would let you know I graduated from Indiana University. At that toe dipping moment you could rebound by saying, “Oh, see what I get for assuming!” with a light laugh or “then I bet there is a really good story behind that Purdue pendant”.  Make light of it and yourself.

Some gentle reminders:

The interviewer wants you to like them, too.  This is not a one way street of building rapport.  Listen to them, observe their body language and identify when you have an opportunity to further a connection.

You are interviewing them as much as they are interviewing you.  Ask questions, get a sense of the environment, culture, position, trajectory, opportunities, challenges – ask, listen and ask some more.

Building a rapport may not have anything to do with something personal.  It may easily come from your career history so run with that.

In summary – be yourself, mind your manners, ask questions and it will be much easier to find that nugget to start a rapport.

 

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I think they should have chocolate flavored shoes for all the times I have stuck my foot in my mouth!  I have plenty of examples of saying something awkward during an interview – what is the most awkward moment that you created for yourself in an interview?

 

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A little about me: I do what I love: help professionals break out of a suffocating job existence and into a career, 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 ★