Just Who Does Your Resume Think You Are?

questioning grampa

The point of your resume is to tell your story the way you want the reader to understand it. What story is your resume telling right now?

If I were to say there is a mistake made on most resumes it that most people tend to use their job descriptions as their bullet points. Job descriptions are easy to copy and tell the reader about your job, right? Wrong. Well, they are easy to copy, but they miss the mark about telling the reader anything of real value.

There are two problems with this approach:

1. This tells the reader what you were hired to do, not what you did.
2. It eliminates you from your resume.

The two most important factors in telling your story are your voice and your value.

Your voice is you speaking through your resume. When someone reads your resume they form an image of you based on the words you choose. It is just like when you form a picture of a character in a book (and why I cannot watch a movie of a book that I have read).

Use words that resonate with you. If you are outgoing and driven use words that match your energy. If you are a behind the scenes driver use words that convey that strength.

Your value is not what you were hired to do, but what you did and how you did it. Think about who you work with, how you work with them, what you do and how they benefit. That is a story of your value.

A duty is running reports. A value is gathering all the information, compiling, partnering with ABC team in providing the report which they use for XYZ. Maybe it is a sales team that uses the report to track their success, identify new target markets. Maybe it is a committee to track and manage expenses. You added value by providing the information needed to increase revenues or reduce costs.

If your resume is bleeding from duty driven bullet points then your resume does not think much of you. It thinks you are one dimensional and boring.

If your resume paints the picture of the value you brought to an organization, clients, teams or community in a manner that sounds like you then your resume thinks you are the bomb – and that is what it will convey to the reader.

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As the Founder and Principle of Career Polish, Inc., a national career coaching and practice 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 LinkedIn, resumes, networking, communication, relationship management, presence and influence.
I help people get from where they are in their jobs to where they want to be in their careers.

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 above ★

Why Your Network May Secretly Hate You – And How To Win Them Back

tantrum

Your network is a two way street, if you only travel one way, you will find yourself alone at the end of the road.

One of the most important resources you can have throughout your career is your network. This group of individuals can provide support during transition, inspiration during evolution and opportunities during growth. This valuable group should be respected, honored, nurtured and not taken for granted.

Have you noticed your network is not responding to you as much as they used to? You may be driving them away.

Throughout our career, we have bumps in the road. Someone else got the promotion, the boss is being unfair to you, job loss, crappy assignments – these things can put us in a bit of a tailspin. We naturally go to our network for support or guidance.

As any good network will do, they will support you. When you ask questions or seek advice, they gladly impart their wisdom. It is how you respond to these acts of support and kindness that will determine if you are driving your network away.

Quite naturally, when negative things happen, we can tend to be a bit defensive or self-absorbed. I have yet to meet a person who does not experience this. I have been down this dark place myself so no stones are being thrown.

How do you know if your network is beginning to secretly hate you, it begins with a rehash of this type of exchange:

“I don’t know why I didn’t get the promotion”
“Did your boss say anything to you?”
“No”
“They didn’t give any reason at all?”
“Well, yeah, but it was bs.”
“What did they say?”
“That I didn’t’ have enough experience in XYZ”
“Ok, well, is there an opportunity to learn that or get more exposure?”
“That’s not the point, I should have gotten the promotion, I have been there longer than Susie who got the promotion.”
“Did she have experience with XYZ?”
“Yeah like five years working with it, but I’ve been there longer.”
“But the job required XYZ and she had five years of experience and you haven’t had any, it sounds like you just need to get involved with XYZ if you want to move into that position”
“I don’t thing that is it, I think my boss is just being unfair and bad things happen to me.”

When your network tries to help, offer suggestions, provide alternatives or downright point out what is black and white right there in front of you but you continue to argue with them, they are not going to get the warm and fuzzies.

When someone asks your opinion, you assume they are going to listen to it. When someone asks your opinion then tells you that you are wrong, it is annoying. Continually having these conversations where you are so entrenched in refusing to listen to any possible reason, annoying turns to avoidance.

Do you find that when you ask for your network’s opinion they answer with things like:

“I really don’t know.”
“I’m sure it will work out.”
Or silence.

What they are probably thinking is, ‘why do you keep asking me then arguing with me about it? Why ask my opinion to tell me I am wrong? Why is this the only thing you ever talk about? Why didn’t I decline the offer to meet, I could have had a root canal without sedatives and it would have been more tolerable.’

Being around someone who only wants to have a conversation so they can bemoan some more, blame everything and everyone, argue with anything offered and refuse to see that they might actually have some factor in the negative situation is not fun.

At this point there are two options: work to repair your relationships or stay in the poor me mode alone. If you are ready to repair, just a few simple actions can do a world of good:

Recognize

When interacting with your network, take a minute to evaluate time. How much time is spent on you and how much is spent on them? Are you asking them questions, are you interacting or are you using them as a sounding board with no interest in them or their life? Recognize if you are hogging all the time.

Apologize

“I know I have been a bonehead recently and seem to only complain about this event, I am sorry.” This can go a long way to repairing some damage, it shows respect to your network. Dollars to donuts they will forgive you – however, once you apologize, do not follow it up with, “it’s just….” and dive right back into it.

Let Go or Listen

You have two options: either let the situation go when talking to your network or hush up and actually listen to what they have to say, although they may not offer it up again since you did not listen the first hundred times. Take that unflattering look at yourself to see if you have any accountability in the situation. It is not fun but it is a lot easier when you have people there to support you. Sometimes things happen that are completely out of your control. The accountability in this situation is your attitude.

Give

If you find yourself in driving your network away mode, now is the time to remember the golden rule of networking: give first. Reach back out, apologize for being a stick in the mud and re-engage with “what are some things going on with you right now that I can help you with?” Put them first. It will also help you put a little distance between you and the negative situation.

Ground Yourself

Put a time limit on yourself for not asking anything of your network, you are now grounded from asking for help. Why? Because you abused it. You need to prove to your network that you are serious about respecting them and being there for them. If you apologize, ask what you can do for them and let go of the negative one day but turn around the next and start right back up, you have just proven that you did not mean a darn thing you said yesterday.

When negative things happen in our career, our network can be our lifeline. Your tribe will understand if you get in a funk and act a little brattish. Just don’t abuse this understanding. But if you do remember, you can turn it around with a little work and repair that little bump in the road for smooth traveling for all.

I do realize that anyone who is in the middle of this mode will probably not recognize it, so maybe if it is someone in your network you can print this out and leave it on their workstation. Just as a gentle hint.

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As the Founder and Principle of Career Polish, Inc., a national career coaching and practice 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 LinkedIn, resumes, networking, communication, relationship management, presence and influence.
I help people get from where they are in their jobs to where they want to be in their careers.
Click here – CareerPolish.com – to find out more about how we can help you.
★ To get all my latest articles, visit LisaKMcDonald.com and click the “Yes Please!” button ★

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5 Ways Your LinkedIn Profile Is Killing Your Personal Brand – And How To Fix Them

linkedin police

Your brand is the perception you create for the way you want others to think of you.  LinkedIn is a powerful tool to help crate, substantiate, communicate and further your brand.  The sheer number of members of LinkedIn points to its power, as of the third quarter 2016, LinkedIn had 467 million members – with an increase of 17 million members from the previous quarter (Statica).

Brand is critical in your career.  Your brand not only includes the skills, talents, value and capabilities you bring to the table, it also communicates how you will fit in with a company’s culture.  According to a Forbes article, 89% of hiring failures are due to poor cultural fit.

That equates to a lot of wasted time and money invested by organizations.  Perhaps that is why it has been noted that 94% of recruiters use LinkedIn to vet candidates (DMR, 2013) and 87% of recruiters use LinkedIn as part of their process (Adweek, 2015).

Brand is important, your brand on LinkedIn is critical, this is why these five things could be killing your brand.

Profile Picture

You are faceless without a profile picture and damage your brand with the wrong picture.

Remember the old adage, “A picture is worth a thousand words”?  Your picture should reflect the brand you are creating.  This is about you so no group photos. This is professional so no friends, family or pets unless it ties directly to your brand. No Facebook selfies.

Think of the image you want to project and incorporate a few guidelines:  your picture should be clear, with you as the main focal point, be current and you should look approachable.  In other words, smile.  Not the cheesy or forced smile, but a genuine smile.   Here is a little trick – have whomever is taking your picture get you to laugh, not a belly laugh, but a can’t-help-but-smile chuckle.  That will be the genuine you.

Headline

If your title is boring, confusing, silly or desperate, it is killing your brand.

It is easy to stick with the default of your title and current company, however, that is not brand driven.  It is boring. Your title does not convey value, sometimes it creates confusion.  If your title is Associate Manager – what does that mean?  No one will reach out to get clarification.

Putting in ‘creative’ muses such as “Wizard of any skill” is silly and a bit too flippant and probably not the business brand you want to create.   Overly stressing you really, really need a job comes across as desperate, i.e. “Seeking new opportunities to immediately bring value”.

Value is key and to incorporate value tell your audience what you do for whom and how that makes their life better from a business perspective.

Instead of “Account Representative at Company Name” try something like “Transforming Accounts to Alliances Through Exceptional Customer Care at Company Name”.  Value is the key.

You have 120 characters to work with so take advantage of that.  The previous example is 84 characters, you could even go a bit more: “Transforming Accounts to Alliances which Propel Profitability by Delivering Exceptional Customer Care at Company Name”.  That line is 117 characters.

You can create a headline that combines keywords and short phrases separated by characters like ■ ♦ ◆or  ▶ to create interest.   Lastly, do not yell at your audience by using all capital letters.

Summary

Without a summary you have not brand.  With a rambling, incoherent word filled just to use all 2,000 character third-person narrative you create a brand, but not the one you want.

LinkedIn is a one-on-one conversation with the person you want to read your profile.  Think back to writing a term paper.  The first paragraph tells them what you are going to tell them and the body tells them just that.  Your headline is like that first paragraph and the summary is the body of the paper.

Tell your story, from your brand perspective of who do you help, how do you help them and how do you do it in a way that is different/better/unique than anyone else?  Thank about what you do and why you do it, what drives you?

Think about sitting down at a foo-foo coffee house with someone from your desired audience and they ask the “tell me about yourself” question – how would you answer in this business, casual one-on-one conversation?  You certainly would not start with “I am a professional XYZ with 20 years’ experience” because no one talks like that in real life conversations.

Be clear, be yourself and do not rely filling your summary with empty words: things like highly accomplished, highly adaptable, strong business sense, effective communicator or proven track record.  You may be one or all of those things, but those alone mean nothing.  Also, those jammed into one or two sentences is overpowering.   Demonstrate, do not merely state.  If you have a proven track record then by all means, tell them what it is, and by the way, if it is proven, you do not have to say it is proven.

Replace your go to buzzwords by answering “how”.  How are you highly adaptable, how are you highly accomplished, how do you have a strong business sense?  When you answer the questions, the buzzwords are no longer necessary because you have demonstrated rather than merely stating.

You are allowed 2,000 characters, but that does not mean you have to use them all.  Having a clear message and plenty of white space is preferred to a character filled ramble.

Lastly, incorporate a keyword section in the end to mesh your brand with industry important keywords, this helps not only the affiliation of the two, but makes you more searchable on LinkedIn.  End your summary with a call to action – invite them to connect or contact you and give your information.

Experience

Not providing a background or only limiting it to titles, companies and years takes away from your brand.

Often throughout our careers we have different twists and turns that make no sense whatsoever at the time. However eventually we see that each step added value to where we are now and where we want to go.

Look at where you want to go (or if you are there – where you are) and identify the most important elements of how you provide value meeting what is most important to your industry, company or clients.  These are now the parameters to write – or rewrite – your experience.

For example, if collaboration is a critical success factor, go back through your history and think about times you demonstrated the ability to lead collaboration or participated to deliver a result.  Use what you want to define your past to fill it in for a complete profile.

Avoidance

If you have not touched your profile since you created it or avoid interacting on LinkedIn often, you are damaging your brand. 

LinkedIn is an interactive, vital community driven by networking, sharing and connections.  If you only update it when you are looking for a job, you are missing a tremendous amount of opportunity.  It also triggers to any coworkers or bosses that you are connected to that there might be something up if all of a sudden you start updating and posting a flurry of activity.

One word that used often in this article is value.  In LinkedIn world, you increase your value by providing value to others.  You do this by connecting, connecting other members, give recommendations, share information, repost articles, join groups, ask opinions and contribute to discussions.  Give back to get.

It is not exactly like Samuel Goldwyn’s quote: “The harder I work, the luckier I get”.  You do not have to work hard to generate results on LinkedIn, you just have to be consistent, clear and mindful of your brand to see the results you want.

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As the Founder and Principle of Career Polish, Inc., a national career coaching and practice 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 LinkedIn, resumes, networking, communication, relationship management, presence and influence.
I help people get from where they are in their jobs to where they want to be in their careers.

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

★ In order to be kept up to date on all my articles Click the “Yes Please!” button on the right side. 

 

 

Make Your Resume Stand Out: Know The ‘What’ And ‘Why’ Before The ‘How’

what-why-how-resume

 

There are no hard and fast rules for resumes, which can make it difficult to know what to write. A lack of knowledge or overload of information, if doing research online, can lead to generalization.  Generalization is using your job description as your resume.

It is perceived safe to use a job description – and easy. What you do is already written out and can easily be plunked in your resume. However there are two challenges with this theory:

  1. It tells the reader what you were hired to do, not what you did.
  2. It leaves out the two most important elements that should be in your resume: you and your value.

The point of your resume is to convey to the reader that you are their perfect candidate for the position. Generalization does not accomplish this goal, it actually works against you: you end up sounding like everyone else.

Before you begin to write – the ‘How’ – think about the position you are targeting and clarify two items:

  1. What skills or strengths are necessary for this position?
  2. Why are these things important?

These are the ‘What’ and ‘Why’ and will make the how easier.

Roles are changing in business, rarely is one position siloed. There is an interconnection to strengthen two most important aspects: revenue and efficiency. A Chief Financial Officer is a great example. This role is evolving from a purely finance function into a strategic leadership partner.

They have a key role in decision making from strategy creation, implementation and measuring impact. They must be able to communicate their insights to the executive team in a manner that allows them to fully grasp the relevance and practical application of the information to identify risk management, value creation and opportunity to improve efficiencies.

They can have a unique advantage in understanding the organization in full spectrum for a high level to in the weeds perspectives. On a broad scope they can ground the executive team conveying real time consequences of financial or operational decisions while directly impacting line functions from vendor selection to system changes to realize improved efficiencies or cost reductions.

Given this we can quickly pick out a few ‘What’s , what stills or strengths are important for the role: strategy, communication, collaboration, vision to name a few. The ‘Why’s following the ‘What’s are the results: smart decision making, strategy design and implementation, capitalize on opportunities to improve profitability, reduce costs, expand markets and so forth.

Now to the how: how did you do what you did, who did you work with, how did you work with them – these questions help you frame the how. Sometimes it is helpful to include the challenges in the ‘How’. If you helped overcome a significant challenge, knowing why it was so challenging gives more depth and impact to your contribution.

Here is an example:

  • What is important: Get everyone on the same page and moving forward on new initiative
  • Why: Do the right thing for the client – new initiative mission and motto
  • How: Communication, leading change
  • Challenge: big internal resistance to change

After a bit of tweaking – and adding language that supports and represents you:

Overcame internal barriers by championing X initiative leveraging targeted, consistent communication and internal advocates to create enterprise-wide buy-in with the overarching vision: do the right thing for the client.

As said before: the point of your resume is to convey to the reader that you are their perfect candidate for the position. You are actually writing for them – to them – to get this exact point across.

Know what is important for the position and why is actually knowing what is important to them. When you speak their language demonstrating your value, your message will be heard loud and clear.

 

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As the Founder and Principle of Career Polish, Inc., a national career coaching and practice 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 LinkedIn, resumes, networking, communication, relationship management, presence and influence.
I help people get from where they are in their jobs to where they want to be in their careers.

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

★ In order to be kept up to date on all my articles Click the “Yes Please!” button on the right side. 

 

Sometimes The Best Thing For Your Career Is To Not Listen To Everyone Else

not listening

 

Nearly a decade ago I had an idea. I was working in an industry that I loved; however, I had an ethical dilemma. I was recruiting individuals for a job that I would not do myself.  I found myself coaching potential candidates on how to get hired anywhere but there.

Two things hit me one day:

  1. I probably was not going to continue to get paid for helping people not get hired at my present company
  2. I loved helping people get into industries and jobs that they really wanted

Then a faint little noise popped in my head. A thought, a possibility – but was it crazy?

I made an appointment to talk to a woman who was in a related industry to bounce the idea off her. I had known her for some time and had a great deal of respect for her as a business owner, expert in her field and someone that was always very straightforward and supportive.

When I shared my idea, the frail little concept that had embedded itself in my head she squashed it like a bug. She told me that it was a terrible idea. No one needed someone to help them write a resume or worse yet write it for them, everyone already knew how. She repeatedly bludgeoned my idea and ended our conversation with “and you’ll never make any money”.

I was devastated, humiliated and crushed. I did not think my idea was that bad. On the way out of her office I beat myself up for being so stupid to even have such an idea. All the way down the elevator my spirits sunk quicker than the ever-increasingly claustrophobic box descended.

Then something changed when I walked out of the building and made my way to the car. Something shifted. Instead of beating myself up, I started to get mad.

It was not a stupid idea.

No, not everyone knows how to write a good resume – I had seen this first hand in recruiting.

There were plenty of people out there that could use help.

I had been helping people.

I loved it.

It wasn’t about the money.

Could she be stomping so hard on that idea because it was actually a good idea that she did not think or, be able to implement or found it threatening to her own business?

That is when I committed to my idea. I set off on a journey the next week and never looked back.

Nearly a decade later my business and I have evolved tremendously. I still love what I do, even more now than when I began. I am not on the cover of Forbes yet my family and I have been very blessed.

If I had listened to “well intended” advice, I would still be dreading a daily commute. I would have missed embracing and further delving into my greatest passion. I would have missed nearly 10 years of amazing people and experiences. I would have missed the life I never thought possible.

When I facilitate workshops, speak to groups or talk with an individual one-on-one there is one piece of advice I learned from this experience that I pass on: listen to your gut first. I may suggest ten actions and eight inspires them, but the other two just do not ‘feel’ right. My advice is do not do the other two, or modify them to what feels right to them.

Do what feels right to you. Defend it to make sure it is not fear driven, but truth driven – your truth.

My job as a coach is to provide advice, expertise, guidance and support yet I want what is best for my clients. This means that my suggestions come after their gut feeling. When they have that conflict, I have them express or defend it to me. Not to prove I am right or change their mind, but to get them to believe in and trust themselves to blend the information, tools and tactics into what works best for them as individuals.

If you are in the midst of a career change, advancement or search – get advice. Talk to people you trust or are experts. Gather the information that is pertinent to you but do not let it overtake you. Do not let it change your truth.

When you get a spark of insanity, do not let anyone else stomp it out. Sometimes people want to eliminate our ‘terrible’ ideas because of their own fear.

Something different scares, intimidates or angers people. They get jealous that they did not think or it or worse yet, do not have the guts to do it. That is them, not you. If you run across those people, thank them for their input and move on.

Find those that challenge you to defend your spark, to strengthen your resolve, to develop a plan of action and support you through the unknown. Then go after it with a determination fueled by all the information you have gathered and the resolve and excitement you hold for your idea.

Then remember it. When you then hear of someone with their own spark of insanity, be the person to inspire, encourage and champion their crazy idea. You may be the little push they need to get that next promotion, start their own business or change industries.

You can be someone’s hero because you became one for yourself when you stopped listening to everyone else.

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As the Founder and Principle of Career Polish, Inc., a national career coaching and practice 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 LinkedIn, resumes, networking, communication, relationship management, presence and influence.
I help people get from where they are in their jobs to where they want to be in their careers.

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

★ In order to be kept up to date on all my articles Click the “Yes Please!” button on the right side. 

Would You Hire You?

Jake and me 2014

My son turns 24 tomorrow. The light of my life, my sweet baby boy. My sweet, very tall, sarcastic, challenging, turned-my-hair-grey-in-my-20s boy.  Obviously, he did not get the height from me (as you can see in the picture – I’m even wearing heels!) but he sure got my sarcasm. In spades. Must be genetic.

The challenging part – well, I take the ‘blame’ for that, it was something I taught him to do.

When he was a little boy and would do something not so good followed by a halfhearted ‘sorry’ I would immediately ask him ‘for what?’ then make him explain. In detail. He hated that.

When he would struggle with a school problem I would ask him rapid fire questions of why or why not repeatedly with little time in between his answer and the next why.  I ignored his “I don’t knows” and instead asked what ifs. He hated that.

There was a method to my madness.

It is never enough to just say sorry, you have to know why you were saying it and at least try to mean it.

When you are struggling with a problem, often you know the answer. You either doubt yourself or do not trust yourself to follow through on your own answer.

After the rapid fire and the light turned on that he did know the answer, I would tell him ‘you got this’ and he would smile with a ‘yeah, I do.’

How does this at all relate to careers? Doubting oneself is a major roadblock in writing your resume.

There are two primary themes in the advice I give for writing your resume:

  1. Write toward what you want
  2. Write for your audience

Your resume is your branding statement to show the reader that you can solve their problems. If they did not have a problem, they would not be talking to you (or rather readying your resume).

It is important to know what is important to your reader, the position, the company, the industry. What are their problems, where do they need the most help, what is most important to succeed in that role?

You may not know the specifics to a company, but you should know the importance to the position. If you cannot answer those questions then why are you going after it?

Here is my challenging to you: if you cannot answer what is important in the job you want and how you can add value – then what are you doing? Why would anyone want to interview you if you do not even know anything about the position? How can you possibly sell them if you cannot speak to what is important to them?

I am not a car person, I once confused the oil light for the low on gas light. I am not a car person. If I were going to go buy a new car I do not want to get the sales person like me in terms of car knowledge.

Someone who comes up and says, “yeah, I don’t really know anything about cars, but I am a people person so I know I can do this job. Gas mileage on this one? I don’t know, I think it takes unleaded. You should buy it, it has four wheels, lots of shiny things on the dashboard and a great color of blue.”

Here is the thing – you DO know.

If it is a lateral move you really know. If it is a move up in your career, you have a pretty good idea. Stop doubting yourself so much. Besides, you can do research to back it up for crying out loud.

If you are doing a lateral move – think about it from this perspective: who would you hire? What would you want them to do? What skills, strengths, aptitudes and attitudes do they need to do well? How will they be measured? What would be expected of them? Write a job description for that job wanting to attract the best/perfect candidate. Then compare it to your resume. Did you even pass your own job search/interview?

If you are moving up, think about people in that position that you know or knew that did well or what you feel it would take. Research the position, connect with people in that position on LinkedIn and talk to them. Do some research, trust yourself and start putting it together then make sure your resume reflects the attributes that are necessary to perform the duties.

If you are transitioning into an unknown area, start with the research. Dig into the job, industries, markets, trends and reach out on LinkedIn to those in the industry or positions. Ask questions, take notes and put it all together. Then take a step back and identify what strengths and skills are required to perform the duties. Highlight those skills  – they are called transferable skills.

Did you notice a bit of a theme here – talk to people. Leverage LinkedIn, it is an amazing business tool. Find an accountability partner who will ask you those rapid fire questions so you stop thinking so much and spit it out.

Time to get back in the game – you’ve got this!

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As the Founder and Principle of Career Polish, Inc., a national career coaching and practice 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 LinkedIn, resumes, networking, communication, relationship management, presence and influence.
I help people get from where they are in their jobs to where they want to be in their careers.

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

★ In order to be kept up to date on all my articles Click the “Yes Please!” button on the right side. 

 

The Key To Keywords: Be Easy To Find Not Easy To Forget

keywords

When writing your resume or LinkedIn profile to propel your career, you might be led to believe that keywords are the most important element or the key ingredient.

They are not. They are important, but not the most important element. They are like the crust for a cherry pie. You need the crust to hold it all together, but the most important part is the cherries. In this analogy, your value is the cherries.

I am not a foodie or food snob so I cannot get into the intricacies of pie crust. All I know is it cannot be too dry, too thick or too bland. It should enhance, not overtake or distract from, the pie filling.

The point of keywords is primarily to help you get found in a search. This is the easy to be found part. When they are forced into your profile or resume without purpose it makes you easy to forget.

The key to the perfect crust, or use of keywords, is the right blend of three things:

  1. Generic & Specific keywords
  2. Context
  3. Saturation

General and Specific Keywords

Do your due diligence before deciding on keywords. Research open positions, job descriptions, expectations and LinkedIn profiles of individuals in the role you desire. Leverage tools like TagCrowd.com to get a visual word cloud and take your own notes. If you are staying within the same industry or position, capitalize on your expertise to add words to that list.

Use acronyms if staying industry specific and expand the abbreviated form to cover any form of search criteria by the hiring organization for relevant keywords. Determine if there are acronyms that are not necessary to spell out.

For example, if I were writing my resume for my time in the financial industry, I would use both AML and Anti-Money Laundering within my resume. However, when detailing my licenses, I would simply write FINRA Series 7, 9, 10, 63, 65, 26, Life & Health, Property & Casualty and not spell out Financial Industry Regulatory Authority.

The case for general keywords is made for search purposes. When searching for a candidate, some searches are performed with a broader net of title or keywords and more selective of other categories to hone in on candidates. Others are performed with a specific title or set of keywords in mind.

For example, if looking for someone in sales, a recruiter may choose to use “Sales” instead of “Sales Representative” because any title with the word “Representative” would appear in their results. They can leverage other categories like location, years of experience and other factors to make a more robust, relevant list.

If your title is specific, for example Account Executive Northwest Territory you would want to use more general keywords in the description of your position to hit the keyword buttons. These might include account management, product development, business development, consultative sales, sales, sales cycle management, marketing, marketing management, analysis, channel or territory management.

Use a blend of generic and specific keywords to be found by any type of search performed.

Context

It used to be when ATS (Applicant Tracking Systems) were first put into place they simply counted the number of times a specific word appeared within the resume. People got creative – they drowned their resume with those words, even using white font in the margins to bump up the numbers.

These systems are smarter today, they not only identify words, they can identify context. They can now tell the difference between performing a certain skill for six years and haven taken a class on this skill six years ago.

This is where context is important. If you leverage keywords naturally in demonstrating your value, they will appease both the computer ATS and the human eye that will read your resume next.

Use keywords to demonstrate.

This is how you will accomplish the not easy to forget part.

Your value is not your title or your job duties. No one cares what you were hired to do, they care what you did.

To communicate your value think about who you worked with, how you worked with them, what you did and how they benefited. Translate this to a bullet point interjecting keywords to elaborate and strengthen your story. Position your accomplishments around the keywords.

This is talking the talk to demonstrate you walked the walk.

Saturation

You can overdo it with keywords. It will make your resume cumbersome and lacking direction. Your job is to demonstrate to the reader that you are the ideal candidate to solve their problem. Using a double crust will dilute the taste of the pie filling and be the center of attention instead of the cherries.

A long list of keywords without context is meaningless. It can communicate that you know the keywords but not the industry, position or value that you possess or is required.

My son played football, I spent years in the stands watching him and look forward to doing so again. Yet to this day I have no idea about positions, offense or defense strategies. I can throw out a boatload of football words but it does not mean that I can tell you if the team is running a man-to-man or zone defense.

Use keywords to enhance, not dilute, your message and value.

The purpose of keywords is twofold: to be found from a search and to demonstrate and support your value. Using the right keywords, in the right context in the right amount will accomplish both these goals.

 

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As the Founder and Principle of Career Polish, Inc., a national career coaching and practice 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 LinkedIn, resumes, networking, communication, relationship management, presence and influence.
I help people get from where they are in their jobs to where they want to be in their careers.

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

★ In order to be kept up to date on all my articles Click the “Yes Please!” button on the right side. 

 

Is Your Resume Speaking Their Language?

resume-speak-their-language

No matter where I roam, I am a Hoosier. I was raised on Bobby Knight’s coaching and weekend show, Reggie Miller ruling the court, watching the Indians on 16th Street and lighting of the world’s largest Christmas tree to name a few.

First and foremost I am just going to say, people are people. I meet and enjoy conversations with amazing, kind, good people all over the country. There is no judgement that one location is better than the other.

We now have an office in Tennessee. I have learned to manage the travel and scheduling, but had the most fun learning and observing the subtle differences between the two locations.

Although, we do have one thing in common: we all love Peyton and claim him as our own.

The biggest difference between the Midwest and the Mid-South to me has been the nuances of language. Although I still cannot figure out why it is standard to write Midwest as one word yet Mid-South is typically a hyphenated word.

I quickly discovered a uniqueness in the Mid-South, at least in my area, name calling. Name calling in the Mid-South is meaningless. A different kind of name calling.

I have been called sweetie, sweets, baby, baby doll, babe, honey and hon. Oh yeah, and sweet thing.

My boyfriend and I were at a local spot getting a pop when I heard, “Hey, sweet thing!”

In both the Midwest and the Mid-South the intent was to get my attention.

Now, where I am from, there is a certain connotation that comes with someone yelling that out. If I were back in the Midwest, I would have had a much different reaction. It would have been an insult to my boyfriend, and me, in a really bad icky-ish pick up throwaway line.

Not in the Mid-South, I just turned around. Not that I naturally assumed that I was the ‘sweet thing’ in question, but there was no one else around and I took a chance they were not yelling it out to my boyfriend.

Mr. Sweet Thing then asked me where I got my boots because his wife would look really good in them. I have to give him credit, they were awesome boots. One of my favorites, the pair I call my pirate boots: knee high black leather, fold over top, dangling charms, pointy toe with three inch heels.

When I told him a store in Indiana he said that stunk because he really wanted to get them for her and thanked me.

I learned that hearing any additional name within a sentence is not a personal thing, it is simply a word: thank you sweetie, good morning baby doll, hon can I help you, here babe let me get that for you, have a great day honey. Regardless of race, religion, size, shape – those little words are stuck in sentences.

I am used to hearing words, just a word without major meaning, stuck in somewhere in a sentence, in the Midwest you can here bro, brother, brah, buddy, dude, bud. It is not uncommon for men to use these types of words when speaking to each other, the Mid-South just happens to give the ladies their own list. Thanks y’all!

What does this have to do with resumes? Certainly not a suggestion of adding these words in there! No, no, no, it is all about the language nuance.

When reading open position postings, are you picking up on the nuances?

When you read about the company, are you getting the feeling of the atmosphere or environment? Does the company or position sound like it is a nose to the grindstone, all out, hard core performance only matters or a relaxed, collaborative place that encourages new ideas and growth?

Listen for the intent, do not just read the words.

When you read the job description, listen to your inner voice in putting together a picture of the opportunity, company and environment. When you read a novel, you form a picture of characters in your head based on the words the author uses; this is the same concept.

Once you get a feel for it, dig in for their important words; there are two sets: key words and descriptors. Use both to speak their language.

Descriptors are the words they use to describe activities or items. Do they use words like drive, propel, encourage, maximize – words that inspire action, excitement? Jot down words or feelings when reading to be able to match their level of descriptors.

Key words are word important to the position and duties. Jot them down as you come across them. A resource to quickly and easily check the most used words in any document is TagCrowd.com. Simply copy the text, paste it in the box and click “visualize”. Tada! A word cloud of the most used words.

Here is the word cloud for this article:

tagcrowd-example-within-article

Prior to the picture, there are 713 words. ‘Midwest’ was used 5 times, ‘pick’ twice and ‘words’ 13 times – just to give you a reference for the visual rating. Pick was identified with various endings.

Most people read the posting and primarily focus on the duties, then writing their resume filled with prior job duties to try to match up with the job. This is a mistake, they are missing critical areas and opportunities.

For the next opportunity you see that sounds like a great match, read it over several times to help your resume speak to them:

  1. Read the job duties for alignment with your value and what you want to do.
  2. Read the requirements to identify your qualifications.
  3. Read it all the way through to get a ‘feel’ for the environment listening to the nuances of how they describe factors throughout the entire posting.
  4. Pick out keywords and their important words.

Once you have this information, go back to your resume and communication and adjust:

  1. Emphasize the value you bring to the expected duties.
  2. Highlight your matching qualifications.
  3. Use their descriptors or similar to speak their language.
  4. Utilize keywords throughout your resume.

Taking a little extra time and ‘listening’ to what is written will help you demonstrate that you are the best candidate to the prospective employer in a way that they can hear you. And sweetie, that can be the difference that gets you the interview.

 

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As the Founder and Principle of Career Polish, Inc., a national career coaching and practice 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 LinkedIn, resumes, networking, communication, relationship management, presence and influence.
I help people get from where they are in their jobs to where they want to be in their careers.

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

★ In order to be kept up to date on all my articles Click the “Yes Please!” button on the right side. 

 

Craft Your Communication Wisely – Rarely Do We Know 100% of Our Audience

who-is-reading-your-communication

Several years ago as a leader, I got my hand smacked about an email in which I added a touch of effervescent witticism.  It was appreciated by my staff, but not my director.

In the very large organization it was not uncommon for updates to fail leaving my staff completely frustrated. During staff meetings and one-on-ones we began adding humor while implementing contingency plans to make the best during these situations.

An update was not successful and another was schedule, I sent out an email to my staff to keep them apprised of time-frames and the situation. The problem is I added a sentence with something similar to “I know you are surprised” after the not working part.

My biggest mistake (and there was more than one) was not realizing my audience was not only those on the email list.

It was a poor reflection of me as a leader supporting another team and the organization as a whole. My communication was not consistent or positive for all who could have seen this communication.

I was young at the time and had a good director. I took appropriate action and accountability. it was a good lesson.

Some companies and representatives do not get the benefit of good coaching or bad mistakes that are good lessons.

I heard a reminder of this and of not being aware of your audience and the misalignment of communication.

There are parts of the south that have experienced quite a winter storm after the holidays. During the weeks of December 26th and January 2nd most services in one small town were pushed back at least a day due to holidays.

The winter storm closed schools, government offices and businesses everywhere and created an even greater delay to some services effectively cancelling them for a week.  Ice covered streets made travel extremely dangerous.

One of these services was trash service, which is provided by a contractor to the town. Many residents passed their trashcans at the end of their driveway day after day for nearly six days after the originally expected delayed pick up date. Then they received communication.

A voicemail was recorded by a representative of the municipality and sent to all customers.

This was the good part – there was communication.

Here is the not so good part – the communication itself.

  • It detailed, in length, the timing of the holiday, how that week and the prior trash had been delayed due to the holidays and in even more detail the storm that hit the town.
  • The representative’s statement threw the service provider under the bus. It was stated that: “we are at the mercy of the service provider, so to speak”. The provider’s name was used only when speaking despairingly about them.
  • It was pretty easy to surmise that the communication came after numerous calls, questions or complaints about the trash not being picked up, that frustration came through.
  • Nearly a minute into the voicemail the most important elements came to fruition: the new collection dates, ability to handle two weeks worth and credit for the missed week.
  • Not only was it was nearly a minute and half long (I am wondering how many listened to the entire message) the tone and delivery was very, very casual.

I believe the communication was to inform and ease. Yet the delivery and dialog delivered a different message: stop calling us, it is not our fault.

If the intent was to address 98% of the complaints, there was a better way. I say 98% because there will always be about 2% who will still complain no matter what you do.

A positive impact could have been had by simply stating: “Due to the holidays and recent winter storm, our service provider delayed trash service for the safety of their employees and those in our community. You will receive a credit for last week and they will resume pick up on X and Y dates with the ability to pick up any additional trash caused by the missed week. Thank you for your patience and understanding, we and the service provider apologize for any inconvenience.”

In twenty seconds this addresses the majority of concerns while demonstrating professionalism , courtesy and appreciation.

When crafting a message we do not always know our entire audience.

If it is an informative message there may be others that the communication touches than the original distribution.

If it is a blanket message (websites, LinkedIn profiles, biographies etc.) the audience is limitless.

If it is a reactionary message, there may be more than one concern. The other thing about reactionary messaging is that it is very easy to slip into blame mode or be a bit testy. Neither is appropriate and either or both will not be viewed well by your audience.

For a more positive, impactful communication, keep these points in mind:

  • There will be the 2%’ers who will not be satisfied or will complain, not a lot you can do about that.
  • Even though there may be one glaring issues or topic, there may be underlying concerns. Your communication should be holistic to cover beyond the most obvious, but not the realm of minute possibilities. In other words, look at it again before you send it out, could there be another concern, are you addressing to many and diluting your message?
  • Speak to the entire possible audience. This means you may have to be less personalized in order to effectively communicate the entire message. Remember throwing in a quip – one group of the audience was okay with it, another was not.
  • If it is a message representing an organization, the voice of the organization should prevail, not an individual.
  • Do not throw anyone under the bus. It does not make you look better by making them look worse.
  • Be brief when you can to maintain the attention of your audience and not dilute your points.

Communication in every form is a representation of the organization, teams and individuals.

For the greatest positive impact, your communication must align in both message and delivery for every person it touches. Reevaluating before distribution can mean the difference between engagement and disengagement of your audience; even those you do not know are listening.

 

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As the Founder and Principle of Career Polish, Inc., a national career coaching and practice 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 LinkedIn, resumes, networking, communication, relationship management, presence and influence.
I help people get from where they are in their jobs to where they want to be in their careers.

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

★ In order to be kept up to date on all my articles Click the “Yes Please!” button on the right side. 

 

Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions Away From Me

new years picture

I have an aversion to two things on New Year’s: singing Auld Lang Syne and resolutions. Well, actually three – drunk strangers who want to hug you at midnight.

I know exactly five words of that song: ‘Should Old Acquaintance be forgot’ and that’s it so I can give it a good strong start but then mumble the rest. It is pain. The invasion of personal space is even more painful, ick.

The most painful of all – the obligatory resolutions.

Who made this rule? Shame on them. Shame, shame, shame.

Personally, I believe it was an evil plot concocted and pushed by the diet and exercise industry. Evil, I say. Instead of a way to motivate our collectiveness, it instead ends in a majority of personal pools of disappointment and shame.

Don’t think so? How about some numbers?  From the University of Scranton. Journal of Clinical Psychology, as provided by Statistic Brain (conducted December 11, 2016):

  • Percent of Americans who usually make New Year’s Resolutions: 45 %
  • Percent of Americans who infrequently make New Year’s Resolutions: 17 %
  • Percent of Americans who absolutely never make New Year’s Resolutions: 38 %
  • Percent of people who are successful in achieving their resolution: 8 %
  • Percent who have infrequent success: 49 %
  • Percent who never succeed and fail on their resolution each year:             24 %

For you 8%-ers out there – way to go! For the rest of us, I have a proposition. Instead of looking ahead with ambiguous life altering goals, let’s do something different. Let’s celebrate.

That’s right – celebrate.

Now I am not a big fan of driving our life journey with our eyes on the rear view mirror; however, I do think pause and reflect of the past can be a great thing.

If I do not appreciate where I was, how can I appreciate where I am and where I am going?

Sometimes I work on something and feel so disillusioned because I have not achieved it yet I am on the verge of giving up. This is when my very wise best friend will take me on a pause and reflect moment. She walks me back to see all the small steps I have taken and succeeded in only to realize I am much closer to the summit than I give myself credit.

Sometimes I have blips along the way. I may not create consistency in some aspects, but she can point out where I did achieve a goal, even if for a short time period, that since I did it once, I can surely do it again.

So what if we took those what would be resolutions and take a look back at last year to see if we can identify moments which we experienced success or created steps toward success.

According to the same article, the top 10 New Year’s Resolutions for 2015 were:

  1. Lose Weight
  2. Getting Organized
  3. Spend Less, Save More
  4. Enjoy Life to the Fullest
  5. Staying Fit and Healthy
  6. Learn Something Exciting
  7. Quit Smoking
  8. Help Others in Their Dreams
  9. Fall in Love
  10. Spend More Time with Family

Quite a list, huh? I think all sound awesome, although I am not sure how you plan to fall in love, but that is a topic for another day. Let’s take a look at one as an example: Enjoy Life to the Fullest.

I would love to be able to do this every day, but then everyday life does not always lend itself to this or I just personally have a crappy day.

But I do know that I am doing pretty good on this one because I have an annoying habit that my son and boyfriend like to point out: “you always see the good in things, don’t you?” is something I hear often.

Why, yes, I do.

I can look back and see some pretty big events this past year where I made a conscious decision to believe that all things happen for a reason and there is a positive reason that was happening. I can look back now and see that the attitude I adopted seemed to help shorten the difficult duration. In reality, maybe it did, maybe it did not; but to me it did and that is what matters.

I can also look back on specific incidents where, again, I (and the boyfriend or son)  made a conscious decision to enjoy the moment.

Last year the boyfriend and I drove to Florida for a vacation. Here is something to know about boyfriend: he is a military guy with a strong case of absolute affection for schedules. Everything is planned and methodical. How we live together is still a fascinating hiccup of nature, but it works. Anyway, we made a conscious decision before we left that we had no plans. Really. On the way down we made some impromptu stops that turned out to be amazing and a total blast.

I can look back at instances like this and realize that even thought I would have completely failed at a resolution to ‘Enjoy Life to the Fullest’, I actually succeeded the majority of the year. This gives me momentum to know I can do it again this year and more.

So take that list of resolutions and make it a remembrance list. Look back at last year and identify and appreciate the times you did achieve, even momentarily, or made significant steps toward achieving those goals.

If you did it, even a little bit, last year, you can do it again. You can do just a little bit more!

Now, for those who like to set resolutions – go get ‘em!

I prefer to set goals and on an adjusted schedule and soon I will share suggestions, strategies and tips on setting and achieving goals (not resolutions) ~ stay tuned!

In the meantime, happy new year and congratulations on your list of reflections and what you did accomplish last year. You rock!

Out of curiosity, do you make New Year Resolutions? Are they the big life changers or smaller goals? If you succeeded – what was your key to success? Am I the only loafer out there not making New Year Resolutions?

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As the Founder and Principle of Career Polish, Inc., a national career coaching and practice 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 LinkedIn, resumes, networking, communication, relationship management, presence and influence.
I help people get from where they are in their jobs to where they want to be in their careers.

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

★ In order to be kept up to date on all my articles Click the “Yes Please!” button on the right side.