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 ★

 

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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 ★

“For Your Career or to Find a Job You HAVE to …. “ Nope, No I Don’t

dont have to cant make me

Have you ever met a person that when they are told that they can’t do something, they dig in their heels to want to do it even more?

No?

Well, hello, my name is Lisa – nice to meet you.  Now you have.

You can thank my dad.  He taught me at a very, very young age there is nothing I cannot do and don’t let anyone tell me otherwise. That thought grew into a stubborn determination and, admittedly, times of “I’ll prove you wrong”.

It also morphed into a natural aversion to anything following the phrase “you HAVE to…”

The aversion turns to complete shut down when the have to is used as some sort of threat or fear tactic. I don’t do threats. I don’t work with people who try to scare me into hiring them.

Recently I was contacted by a marketing professional who was willing to help me with my marketing. (I chose the words in that previous sentence carefully with the right amount of sarcasm – willing, help, professional)

He did a preliminary scan of my online presence and during our conversation mentioned that he could not find me on Facebook.  This was followed, in a commanding, condescending tone, with “you have to be on Facebook or you just aren’t relevant.”

Nope.

No.

You see, here is the thing – I am on Facebook (and I am relevant, thank you very much). My company is also on Facebook. Those are two distinct profiles. My personal Facebook is just that – personal. It is not open for the world to view and I only connect with people I know and like. It is my Facebook page, I get to do that.

I have nothing against business owners who open their Facebook to the world or connect with all their clients, prospects and anyone else. More power to them.  If that works for them – awesome, because my online presence separation works for me.  I connect with my professional sphere through LinkedIn.

I do not make blanket recommendations for every client. Not every single client of mine needs to get off Facebook and conversely, not every single client of mine needs to be on LinkedIn.

I love LinkedIn yet I am realistic – it is not a platform that is best for everyone. An example would be some in the financial industry. Their company may have very restrictive parameters for their LinkedIn profile, if they are allowed to have one. It defeats the whole purpose of conveying yourself in an authentic manner when you have compliance dictating what you can say or giving you a script.

While you are in your job search or expansion, personally, I would be wary of anyone telling you that you have to do something or you just won’t succeed.

Let me take it a step further: if you are looking to move forward in your career or looking for the next right job, please allow me to offer a piece of advice.  Research, read and talk to as many people as you desire or can stand about the process; then dismiss everything that doesn’t work for you.

If you research resume writing you will find more articles and information than one person can possibly digest.  It can be overwhelming. It can also be confusing because often, the advice you find contradicts itself.  There are no hard fast rules to resume writing, so see if you can determine common themes of the advice given.  Then apply those for your situation.

If you come across anyone telling you that you have to do something that does not feel right to you, don’t do it. Do not let them threaten you and make you think or feel that you won’t get a job without their advice or help. Also, do not let them scare you into something that makes you uncomfortable. It is wrong, bad business practice and, personally, I think bullying.

My personal favorite way to handle that is when told I have to do something I reply with “No I don’t.”  If they insist on pushing it further and up the ante on the bullying, I respond with something to the effect of I’m a grown up, I don’t have to do anything and they aren’t my dad, they can’t make me.

Hey, if they are going to be childish in trying to threaten or bully me, then they deserve that. It normally does the trick on ending the conversation and any potential future conversations all in one shot.

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I think we all have a career search horror story about being bullied. Mine was when I was in my early 20s I went to a placement firm and was told by the ‘gentleman’ I met with that I would never find a job without his help and my young son would starve. (He literally said that! Not cool to say to a single mother!) The cost of his services: over $5,000 (this was over 20 years ago) and the positions I was looking for were non-executive administrative.  Needless to say, I did not sign up!  But phooey on him, I got a job a couple weeks later at a higher level, great pay at an amazing company.

What was the dumbest/bully-ish/fear factor experience you had 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 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

 

Personal Branding – What?? The What, Why, How & the Most Important Question of All!

why - personal branding

Do you hear the phrase ‘personal brand’ quite a bit?  You should, it is a critical component and driver for having the career you want.  But, do you know what it means and how to use it? Before we get to that one important question – let’s review the the what, why and how of personal branding.

What

But what exactly is personal branding? It is the packaging of you.  Think of it this way, we are all in sales whether we work for someone else, are looking for a job or own our own business.  We are all in the business of selling the best version of ourselves to reach that next desired level in our career.  The best version of you is your product.  Your product is a unique combination of you and your value.  The packaging of your product is your personal brand.  Your personal brand is how you want others to see you, get you and remember you.

 

Why

The way all great companies market awesome products – through a marketing strategy and campaign.  That is where your LinkedIn profile, resume and any other virtual or real touch that you have with the outside world come into play.  You want to showcase your brand on paper, digital and in person – networking, speaking, interviewing, client meetings, etc.

 

Great brands bring great results.  For commercial based product marketing think Nike or Coca-Cola.  For personal brand marketing think Mark Cuban and Richard Branson, they have perfected their marketing strategy to create a brand that is bigger than their company.  I had a client tell me that her biggest dream would be to work for Richard Branson.  She did not name a company, she named him.

 

More Why

Your personal brand can elevate your three big C’s: confidence, connections and career.

 

When your personal brand is the authentic alignment of you and your value and you market it, people will want to connect with you.  Opportunities will present themselves because people will be drawn to you for who you are and what you do.  Your network is going to expand.  Your likelihood of finding that job increases.

 

SHRM surveyed employment and/or recruitment HR professionals to find out how they use social media for talent acquisition.  According to this September 2017 article, 84 percent of hiring managers use social media to hire — 96 percent use LinkedIn, and 53 percent use Twitter.

 

How

We’ve covered the blueprint of your personal brand, the combination of you and your value.  I call this the “V Formula” – your value (+) in your voice equals (=) visibility.  Think about who you work with, how you work with them, what do you do and how does someone receive benefit to start identifying value.

 

That One Question

Here we are, the one question you need to start with; the funny thing is this one question is the one that most people often forget to ask themselves or even think about when they think about their personal brand.

 

Why do you do what you do?

 

No really, why do you do what you do?  It is not enough to say “I love it”.  I love food and to cook but it doesn’t mean I am any good at it.  Dig into the why and no phony, what you think someone wants to hear why.

 

No blanket “I get to help people” why’s either.  We want reasons here, real concrete, sink your teeth into them, make you feel good reasons.  Start with the “I love it” and “I help people” but then go further, like this:

 

I love what I do and there are a few reasons why:

 

  • I help people who feel stuck break free and get what they want
  • I help people regain their confidence
  • I help people rediscover themselves
  • I help people see and accept their awesome
  • I help people cut through their internal BS
  • I meet amazing people who do extraordinary things
  • I work with people who have a fire in their belly, a passion for what they do, a desire to expand
  • Every day I get to talk with someone who loves what they do
  • I learn something new every day from the internal workings of an international racing team, the early stages in developing new cancer drugs, the complexity of merging two powerhouse organizations, the intricacies of medical devises, the compassion of patient care or the dedication of keeping the warehouse together during the lean years. Every day!
  • I get to use both sides of my brain: the analytical after an interview by analyzing my notes, researching positions, industries, companies, keywords, trends and preparing reports and tools for my clients. I get to use the creative when I am writing and designing the layout.  Then I go back into analytical to analyze everything all over again.

and on and on….

 

When you are ready to take ownership of your personal brand and let it work for you, read this article from the bottom up.  When you know your why all the other pieces will fall more easily in place.  So, start with the why, input the value, use your voice, market your product and measure against what is possible.

 

Set yourself free and see where it takes you – it will be an amazing journey!  Of course, if you need any help launching – you can find me on LinkedIn….

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

If You Don’t Know What It Is It Ain’t You

Doggone Dinosaur

 

Recently I was reminded of a time the boyfriend and I were in Washington DC.  We set out to do a bit of sightseeing that day and the first order of business was finding a central place to park. At the time we did not realize what a challenge parking in Washington DC was, but we soon learned.

 

The thing that struck us was there were plenty of open parking spaces, but they all came with their own little signs. They were all designated for some specific group.  After searching for a bit – I cannot say how long, but if you ask the boyfriend it was a very….very….long…..time, he was ready to throw in the towel. He suggested we just park in one of the designated spots because they were all empty.

 

This is when I think a bit of  my mother comes out in me.  She is always the voice of reason.  I asked him if he knew what that designation meant (“no”) so I said, “If you don’t know what it is then it ain’t you.”

 

Side note, we found a safe spot not too far from one of the Smithsonians and a happy sightseeing day ensured.

 

The point of this little parking adventure story is the comment that I made, which I found myself saying again recently.

 

I was talking to an individual who wanted something more in their career.  They felt they outgrew their current position and after recently earning a degree.  They wanted to take the next step.  Actually, they wanted to leapfrog a few rungs up that ladder.

 

Let me say this: I absolutely appreciate education.  I am all for it and actively pursue it myself.  I have my advanced learning goals all planned out.  The next adventure begins after the first of the year.

 

With that said, a diploma or degree does not automatically qualify you for shooting up the career ladder.

 

This individual was having no part of that thought.  They dug their heels in that their degree equated to making strides well beyond their capabilities.  We discussed a potential job of interest.  When asked ‘how your experience equates to this duty’ they started to falter, but still held tight.  When I asked them what a particular required aspect meant, they said they did not know.

 

That’s when the parking line came out.

 

If you do not know what the job needs, entails or have any relatable experience – you are not it.  You can have all the ambition and amazing work ethic as one person can possibly have, but if you cannot demonstrate how you fit the requirement – you are not it.

 

Wanting it is not enough.  Wanting that parking space and taking it would have gotten us towed.  You have to prove it.  This is not a matter of a job description using different terminology to what you do in a tə-MAH-toh versus tə-MAY-toh kind of way. This is a no clue what that even means kind of way.

 

Not every accolade or accomplishment is going to boost you up that ladder, but they will help you get there one step at a time.  You can make those steps faster when you learn to prove you are what they want and need.  That comes with doing it.  So keep doing it, aim high, keep getting knowledge, education and experience and keep moving forward.  Your ladder awaits!

 

 

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

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

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

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