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

Virgina holiday career opportunities

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Goodbye delete button

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

– Cultivate interest

– Motivation to help each other

– Establishing trust and credibility

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How To Stop RBF From Killing Your Communication

Scarlett O'Hara RBF

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

 

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

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

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

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

Don’t Let Facebook Ruin A Job Offer

computer detective
 
Three people.
 
All exceptional candidates across talent, energy, ability to provide value. All considered for a position with a high-energy, creative firm. Three people who the executive team was excited about.
 
Not one got the job.
 
Three people did not receive a job offer because of their Facebook page.
 
I’m no Nero Wolfe or Colombo (and if you know who those two are without having to Google it, you’re my kind of person). Yet I – and many others – can do a simple search on Facebook.
 
One search can ruin all credibility you created.
 
Poof! Gone.
 
I am not targeting Millennials. Oh no. This faux pas is for us older generation, too. I’ve got one word for you: politics.
 
It is not that you post your opinion in this arena. Yay or nay about the current climate makes no difference, you do you.
 
It’s how you post.
 
If you are mean, nasty, snotty, inappropriate or just an overall horse’s arse then you are going to be a horse’s arse without a job offer. I would not want to hire anyone to be a part of my team who treats people in this way if they disagree with them.
 
It’s time to clean up all your social media. It matters. Last year it was reported that 70% of employers used social media to screen candidates (CareerBuilder).
 
Start with the obvious: delete any questionable, vulgar, or inappropriate photos or posts. Next is anything that would throw you in a different light than what you are presenting during your job search.
Not sure what those are? Think of it this way: before I went to college my dad gave me a piece of advice. When deciding what to do, “Just imagine I am standing right next to you.” Would you say that or behave that way if your parent was standing next to you?
 
If that doesn’t work for you, how about this: would you talk to your grandmother like that? Or how about, you get the job and that picture is going to be used for all your professional material. Business cards, website bio, team photo. Is that really the one you want the professional world to see?
 
Ideally, you want to clean social media house before you begin the job search. If you are already in the process please, please, please clean up your social media house tonight!
 
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I do what I love: help professionals break out of a suffocating job existence and into a career that renews their brilliance.
 
I am triple certified as a Professional Resume Writer, Social Brand Analyst and Career Coach. My clients learn to identify, strengthen and communicate their brand and most importantly – their value – across 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 Make Everyone – Including You – Stop Hating Your Resume

scary resume face

Let’s have a shout out – who likes to read resumes?

Bueller?

Bueller?

<<<crickets>>>

That’s what I thought. Now imagine if you had to read resumes a lot of resumes – to find the right person for your organization. How much would you enjoy your day?

Why do resumes have such a bad rap? Let’s take a look at some resume language that is very common:

“Experienced XYZ looking to use my leadership and MNO skills to improve blah, blah, blah…

“Responsible for we have already lost interest in whatever this might be….”

Or how about bullet points that are a recap of the job description:

  • Organize and coordinate operations in ways that ensure maximum productivity
  • Supervise employees and provide feedback and counsel to improve efficiency and effectiveness
  • Maintain relationships with partners/vendors/suppliers
  • Gather, analyze and interpret external and internal data and write reports
  • Assess overall company performance against objectives

Ugh! It’s all a big snooze fest. Not only is it boring, it is painful to read. Why? Because, in essence, the person hasn’t told you anything and it doesn’t even sound like a person!

There are two critical elements that every resume needs to get – and hold – the attention of the reader. Your value and your voice.

Value

Please, please, please stop using your job description as your bullet points. That is telling the reader what you were hired to do, not what you did. Instead, use these as a starting point.

For example: organize and coordinate operations in ways that ensure maximum productivity.

There is no ROI in that statement. It is missing your value. Expand on that by answering who you worked with, how, what you did and how productivity was maximized. Give metrics if possible, if not, describe the before and after.

I want to meet the organization who’s operations are simple enough for one bullet point. Really? Operations covers quite a bit of ground so break it out – show your value across the whole stream. There will be more value and beneficiaries. These could be the company, clients, processes, team, or an individual.

That is a lot of ground to cover – start writing it out. The more the merrier. It gives you more to play with when you are ready to start ruthlessly editing.

Which leads right into the second critical component: your voice

Voice

Please, please, please stop trying to write in ‘resume language’. It sounds unnatural and fluffy full of filler words. Your resume should speak to the reader and it should sound like you. Most of us do not litter our conversations with hundred dollar words when a ten cent-er will do.

Start with the dime conversation. Write out what you do as though you were talking to a real person. Go into detail, be natural, and use words that feel right to you. Don’t even think about putting it in a resume yet, just talk/write like a real person.

Once you get a mound of information, now the fun begins! Time to slice and dice. Look for commonalities that you can group. Is there a shorter way of expressing those two sentences? Ask yourself, what is the real point of these sentences, what do I most want them to know? Start there, then fill in the how’s.

Don’t take anything you do for granted. You may think everyone does what you and the way you do. They don’t. How you approach, solve, or plow through processes or projects is what makes you different.

Differentials are golden. Polish that gold by using your voice. Enhance your voice by using a thesaurus. “Manage” and “responsible for” get old quick. The thesaurus is your friend!

Keep editing, trimming and making sure your words are in there. That is how your voice will come through.

Oh, let’s not forget the keywords. These are critical for a little thing called ATS. Applicant Tracking Software. That is the wonderful tool that most companies use to screen your resume. They are looking for those keywords to qualify or disqualify you for the position.

The best place to find keywords is the job description. Where do you think the ATS gets them?

Just to make it more fun, ATS is getting smarter. It used to be that it only counted the number of key words in the resume. Now some software has evolved to be able to understand concepts. For example, if it is a project manager job, one camp of ATS is looking – and counting – ‘project management’.  The second camp of ATS understands context. It knows that “Managed this project” means project management and it counts.

Incorporate the keywords – and your words – into value rich bullet points. The result will be a resume that the reader will understand and want to find out more.

 

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

I am triple certified as a Professional Resume Writer, Social Brand Analyst and Career Coach. My clients learn to identify, strengthen and effectively communicate their brand and most importantly – their value – by learning and leveraging personal branding as applied to 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 Wasting The Value Of Your LinkedIn Headline

headline

 

It’s called a headline for a reason. A headline’s purpose is to quickly draw attention to the story that follows.  LinkedIn is a platform to tell the story of you.  Why wouldn’t you leverage this spectacular 120 character space to garner attention and interest?

When you simply list your job title and the company you work for it neither grabs a lot of attention or interest. Besides, does that title really convey the value that you offer? Probably not. We need to add a little punch to your headline, and we do that through keywords and value.

Think of your headline like a teeter-totter. On the left side is your title, the fulcrum can be a character and the right side is your value.  For a whole host of characters you can use in LinkedIn, check out this article. It also lists out character limits for each section.

Let’s take a look at my headline.

lisa-k-mcdonald-linkedin-headline.jpg

It starts on the left with a title:  Career Success Coach

Followed by Keywords: Executive Resumes & LinkedIn

Then the value: Bring out the ROCK STAR in YOU (encapsulated by two characters)

Lastly an additional differentiating tidbit: Forbes Coaches Council

 

I was very intentional in the words I chose, especially for the value perspective.  I am bringing my personality out right there before you even read my summary.

I am very passionate and high energy about what I do.  The choice of phrasing and the fun little characters helps draw people that I love working with: people who are passionate about what they do, awesome in how they do it and we have a lot of fun creating their success.

Think about the value that you bring to an organization, its people or clients. What is it that you do that makes a difference? Tie in keywords that decision makers are looking for and weave that into your headline.

Think punch, saying much with little, If you are in HR and the person who makes a positive impact on keeping talented people happy and engaged in your organization, perhaps you could work in the words “advocate’  or “champion” in your headline….

Have fun with it, change it up, let it be an extension of the two most important components of your brand: your value in your voice.

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

I am triple certified as a Professional Resume Writer, Social Brand Analyst and Career Coach. My clients learn to identify, strengthen and effectively communicate their brand and most importantly – their value – by learning and leveraging personal branding as applied to 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 ★

 

Presentation Breakthrough: How To Stop Boring Your Audience

bored audience

Do you hate public speaking?

Most people who do have some fear of essentially making a fool of themselves or the audience not listening. These are absolutely valid fears, and can be overcome with the right strategy.

Here are two solid tips for the often overlooked key to a great presentation: content.

Tip One: Immediately ask two important questions.

   1. What is your goal?

What is the point of your presentation? Is it to inform or influence? The bottom line is what do you want your audience to do after you have spoken to them? It is critical to know your end game. It is the foundation of your presentation.

   2. What does your audience need/want to hear?

This is not what you want to tell them. They do not need to hear everything you know about the subject. This is solely focused on your audience – what do they need?

This is the biggest culprit of losing an audience. How – by trying to put too much information into your presentation. Do not exceed your audience’s ability to absorb information.

Tip Two: Keep your points to no more than five (general rule of thumb).

Yes, really, five. If you scoff at this number, try a little test. Ask people around you to list off as many points as they can from presentations they have heard. How many points did they remember? I will be dollars to donuts that five points is the most.

How to get to those five. First, list of all the important factors your audience needs to know or hear. Write as many things as you can think of in this first list. After you have compiled this list, rank the items in order of importance.

Your top five are you’re your critical points and the structure of your presentation. Other points may be important and can be used as bonus collateral, like handouts or follow up emails.

Bonus Tip One: Say more with less.

We naturally write more words than we speak when conveying a message. (A lot has to do with not being able to use our voice or body language, but that is another story.) When compiling your presentations, focus on key words. Do not memorize whole streams of thought or sentences. If you don’t say them exactly as you practiced or memorized, you might feel like you ‘messed up’ and it will throw you off.

Know the key concepts and practice a natural flow between them. Let your words change, get comfortable with a bit of variation.

Bonus Tip Two: Practice, practice, practice – with a twist.

The best practice is videotaping yourself once you get comfortable with your content and delivery. But throw this into the mix: ask a friend or colleague, akin to your audience, to listen to your presentation.

Here is the key: after you present, don’t ask them how you did. Ask them what they got out of it or what they thought were the main points.

If their points match yours, awesome! If their list does not match yours – go back for ruthless editing. Look at the points they missed – did you say too much, is there a simpler way to convey your message? Is it really important? Were you rushing through and not allowing them to absorb all the points?

Boring presentation breakthrough starts with knowing your goals and the audience’s needs. Do the heavy lifting of strategy and your audience will hear and remember your message. And not looking like a fool? Confidence through practice and a genuine interest in your topic will prevent that.

 

 

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

I am triple certified as a Professional Resume Writer, Social Brand Analyst and Career Coach. My clients learn to identify, strengthen and effectively communicate their brand and most importantly – their value – by learning and leveraging personal branding as applied to 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 ★

Be Like Them To Be Liked By Them

 

matching and mirroring for networking

Ah, networking. How we need thee and sometimes loath thee.

Imagine walking into a room and not knowing a single person. Do you feel your stomach tighten? Your nerves tingle? Does your breathing quicken and become shallower? Is that little voice in your head questioning how you are going to connect to someone, anyone?

Now imagine walking into a room full of strangers. But this time, you are confident that in a few minutes, you will be building rapport with anyone in that room.

Which scenario would you like better? I bet the second one. There is only a slight difference between the two scenarios. The key is deliberately applying something we do naturally.

Before we get to the key – let me frame our conversation with this basic fact: like attracts like. We are drawn to people like us or share similar traits, interests, habits or patterns.

I had a whole city full of demonstrations of this fact last weekend. Chief and I went to a concert. As we were walking around town before the show, we saw a lot of people wearing shirts with the band’s name on it. Lots of people. From 10-year-olds to 70-year-olds. Every shape, size, color imaginable of person – all wearing similar shirts. And each time they passed one another they interacted. With positive hand gestures and shouted out the band name or something related to the band.

There was a lot of bonding among strangers in that little town. All because they had something in common.

Like attracts like.

How does this benefit you in building rapport quickly when networking? And what is this thing we naturally do anyway?

Matching and Mirroring. These are two terms used in NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming). Basically, it is becoming in sync with the other person.

There is a subtle difference between the two and, just for fun, let’s add another element: Cross Over Mirroring. In terms of body language, the three can be very simply broken down as:

Mirroring is literally being a mirror to the other person. If they raise their right hand, you raise your left as though they are looking into a mirror.

Matching is copying their move. If they tilt their head to the left slightly, you tilt your head slightly to your left.

Cross Over Mirroring is when you match their movement with a different type of movement. If they are tapping their foot, you tap your finger.

We instinctually perform matching and mirroring. The next time you are talking to a friend or loved one, pay attention to how you are interacting. Are you leaning in after they lean in? Do you use hand gestures when you talk and they respond using similar hand gestures?

Yet when you are aware of the implication of matching and mirroring and apply it deliberately, you will quickly create a trust bridge. You will be emitting, and their brain will be receiving, a message that says, “Hey, there is no danger here, we are cool. We can build a connection because we are alike.”

It first starts with the handshake. Match their handshake. If they are a strong shaker, shake their hand firmly right back. If they are a soggy-sock shaker, use very little pressure. No matter how hard it is – fight the urge to squeeze a gentle shaker’s hand. It sets up a roadblock to building rapport.

I mentioned above breathing and speaking. If the person you are speaking with is a fast talker, speed up a bit to be more in sync with them. If they are a more deliberate talker, slow it down.

Matching their breathing can be trickier. You can notice their shoulders to get the sense of their timing, but that may be more than you are willing to tackle at first.

Start with the body language, speed and pitch of their voice. Build symmetry naturally.

Naturally – that is the caveat. We want to match and mirror – not mimic or monkey. What does this mean? Have you heard the phrase ‘monkey see, monkey do”? It means when someone makes a move you immediately make that move. And continue to do so. That is way too deliberate. It is annoying and you actually break the rapport.

Be aware and be subtle. Wait a couple beats to match or mirror. Make your movements gentle and natural so they are unaware of what you are doing.

The next time you walk into that room of unknowns, take a moment to scan and observe. Notice how someone stands, leans and gestures. Then you can approach them and confidently, discretely and quickly build rapport so there won’t be a stranger left in that room.

Did you notice the matching being done in the picture above? The two gentlemen each have a hand in their pocket. All three are holding their glasses in their right hand at the same plane. One gentleman is holding his glass higher near the rim, while the other two are holding theirs closer to the stem of the glass. It’s fun when you start looking a bit more closely, isn’t it?!

 

 

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

I am triple certified as a Professional Resume Writer, Social Brand Analyst and Career Coach. My clients learn to identify, strengthen and effectively communicate their brand and most importantly – their value – by learning and leveraging personal branding as applied to 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 Get Rid Of The Snooze In Your Resume

Snooze Resume

Manage. Responsible. Oversee. Blah, blah, blah.

These are words we often see in resumes but they are words that I call snooze words.  Really, how excited do you get when you read:

  • Manage a team of five.
  • Responsible for Midwest Territory.
  • Oversee client accounts.

I would venture to say not very excited. The words are boring and the sentences tell you nothing – nothing – about the individual or their value.

Snoozefest.

Not only do you want your resume read, you want it to mean something to the reader. The above bullets are void of meaning. They are job descriptions, i.e. what you were hired to do.

The problem with that is this: just because you were hired to do that, doesn’t mean you did it well.

The first part of waking up that resume is to dig a little deeper. What exactly does each one of those statements mean and what does it mean to the reader?

You are writing for the reader. Your main job is to answer their number one question: what can you do for me?

Let’s start with where we are – a boring, non-value statement. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Who do I work with when I do this task?
  • How do I work with them?
  • What do I do?
  • How does someone/thing benefit from my involvement?

Time to dig. What exactly does it mean to be “responsible” for a territory?

The Who: If you oversee a territory – who do you interact with? Do you have anyone that reports to you? Is there a budget? Or are you an individual sales – if so, who are your clients, partners or stakeholders?

The How: If you manage a team, how do you help them do their job better? If you are a solo sales, how do you build and maintain your client relationships? Do you have a hand in the budget?

The What: When you work with a team, what do you do to inspire them, eliminate problems for them, or improve their performance?  For solo sales, what makes you better at what you do – what do you do differently than anyone else? What strategies or tactics have you employed that have benefited your clients, you or the company? If you work with the budget, how do you keep it in line or how do you save the company money?

The Value: Does the company benefit from the above by having an increase in client accounts or revenue? Did you save the company money? Does your team benefit from your coaching by posting better numbers? Does the company clients benefit because they get better service?

Dig, dig, dig. Keep asking questions about what is involved. Remember, everything you do has value to it or you would not be paid to do it. Write all these things in a conversational tone – do not try to write ‘resume’ at this point.

Now you might come up with something like this (for solo sales):

“I work with clients to help them understand the tax change. In the territory, the state changed its taxing structure from a flat rate to a weight based. This was a huge problem for our clients. I figured out how to work within the system in terms of ordering and inventory so that the new change wouldn’t impact them and it ended up saving them millions of dollars in both taxes and inventory – win-win!”

That is quite a bit for a bullet point, but that is okay, it is a great start! Now let’s get down to the fun stuff – trimming it down and making it meaningful.

Take the most important elements of your first paragraph: work with clients on strategy, tax changes, saving millions in inventory and taxes.   This, my friends, is the basis of your bullet. We could say something like:

  • After tax changes, worked with clients on strategies that saved millions in inventory and taxes.

We could. But it is a bit boring, don’t you think? What is the most important part of this sentiment? That you saved clients millions in inventory and taxes. Then we should follow with the how. Grab your reader’s attention immediately with a benefit.

Saved clients millions in inventory and taxes  – that is our beginning.  Now the how: coming up with a strategy to counter the tax changes.

Ok, that might work, but I think we could punch it up a bit more…..

  • Saved clients millions in inventory and taxes by creating and implementing a strategy that countered recent tax changes.

Still a little boring. Also, we have an assumption in there. If it saved them millions, it is assumed it was implemented.  How about….

  • Saved clients millions in inventory and taxes with a strategy that countered recent tax changes.

Not bad. Not great, but not bad.  You know, we have some space here to talk about how that change was going to hurt them.

  • Saved clients millions in inventory and taxes with a strategy that countered recent tax changes from flat-rate to weight based.

Hmmm.  It needs some punch and then I think we will have it.

  • Saved clients millions in inventory/taxes with strategy that thwarted crippling product tax change from flat-rate to weight-based.

Ahhh yes, that’s it.

The punch comes in the thwarting and crippling.

Here is the final step to get to the impact with punch – your friend and mine the thesaurus.  I have at least three thesaurus references that I use. I like to play them off each other so they don’t start slacking.

My favorite is: http://www.synonym.com/synonyms.  Simply type in a word and search.  It provides definitions, synonyms, and antonyms.  For any synonym in a blue box, just click on that word and it will repeat the process for it. Love it.

Synonym

 

 

Next is good ol’ Merriam-Webster: https://www.merriam-webster.com/thesaurus. It comes with a definition, synonyms and related words. Also, a fun little word of the day – bonus!

Merriam Webster

 

 

Lastly, there is a visual tool, Graph Words: http://graphwords.com/.  It spiders out similar words that you can click on to get a whole new visual.

 

Graph Words

 

These are a few great sites – if you know of or use something different – I would love to hear about it!

When you are finding new words, make sure to use words that resonate with you.  By all means, if you are a more behind the scenes person, do not use a strong word like ‘revolutionary’ if it makes you feel uncomfortable. Find the right fit in describing your value with your voice. That is the winning combination! That is how you delineate your personal brand – your differentials.

All of these sites are free to use and can help put a little punch in your words for a more powerful resume.  Or, as provided my friend the thesaurus, have a resume that is more potent, effectual, compelling, coercive, mighty…..

 

 

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

I am triple certified as a Professional Resume Writer, Social Brand Analyst and Career Coach. My clients learn to identify, strengthen and effectively communicate their brand and most importantly – their value – by learning and leveraging personal branding as applied to 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 ★

 

 

 

CIA Strategy Makes Your Resume Irresistible

CIA Resume Writing

Years ago TheLadders did a study and found that recruiters spend an average of six seconds reviewing a resume. Keep in mind that recruiters are this laser-focused because they do this regularly.

For other audiences, including HR and decision makers, they may give you a bit more time, let’s say maybe 10 seconds.

That is not a lot of time to grab attention and get your message across.

Why do they spend so little time on this initial glance? Because they know what they are looking for and they don’t want to waste time. From their first glance to a more in-depth review, there are two questions they are constantly asking:

What can you do for me?
Why do I want to talk to you versus anyone else?

Your audience is very stealth in reviewing/reading your resume and in order to get – and keep – their attention while answering their two burning questions, you have to be stealth, too.

Like the CIA.

Direct quote from http://www.cia.gov: “CIA’s primary mission is to collect, analyze, evaluate, and disseminate foreign intelligence to assist White House the President and senior US government policymakers in making decisions relating to national security.”

What is that person doing when reading your resume? They are collecting, analyzing, evaluating and disseminating intelligence – to do what – help the decision maker (or themselves) make a decision relating to hiring.

Once they analyze, evaluate, etc., they then provide reports or briefings. In our situation, they would make a recommendation. How do we provide a roadmap that makes it easy for them to recommend you as the best candidate?

Think CIA. No, not Central Intelligence Agency, our CIA stands for: Critical, Important and Assumed.

Once you have your baseline resume put together, now is the time to get strategic and use the CIA method.

Critical – what is most important to the company, position, and team etc.? These are keepers.
Important – what are your differentials and aspects that are important for the position? These are keepers.
Assumed – what are the elements, tasks, skills, duties, attributes that are going to be expected or are common? These are strike items.

We need to do this on every level within your resume. Let’s take a Bookkeeper for example. Their role, in general, is to create financial transactions and reports. Keyword phrases include issue invoices to customers and suppliers; cash receipts; tag and monitor fixed assets; monitor debt levels; reconcile accounts to ensure their accuracy, etc.

These are all expected and routine – i.e. assumed. We could waste valuable white space by listing them out as bullets (and sound like a job description) as such:

  • Tag and monitor fixed assets.
  • Pay supplier invoices in a timely manner.
  • Conduct periodic reconciliations of all accounts to ensure their accuracy.
  • Monitor debt levels and compliance with debt covenants.
  • Issue invoices to customers.
  • Issue invoices to suppliers.

Boring! Plus, that is a lot to read to just to cover the assumed. However, we do want to include these keywords for the ATS systems.

The solution: ruthless editing, as my mentor Deb Dib would say. Cut, cut, cut. So let’s redo this so it is human and ATS scan friendly:

Bookkeeper, Company Name, Time Period – Time Period
Brief description

Customer/Supplier Invoicing | Account Reconciliation | Fixed Assets | Debt Monitoring | Cash Receipts

• Now create bullets that demonstrate your value: what was the benefit to whom by doing what.

 
We can go even deeper within statements to clarify and condense.

If you had the following sentences:

Blah, blah, blah doing XYZ for A, B, C, and exceeding customer expectations. Delivers exceptional client experiences. Blah, blah, blah….

Let’s take a look at that. We can get rid of the “exceeding customer expectations” at the end of the first sentence because it is assumed that you exceed their expectations if you deliver an exceptional client experience.

See how this works?

It takes a lot more time and strategy to think CIA yet the results are well worth it. You will transform that blah, blah, blah resume into a branding piece with condense, impactful staements with plenty of white space, which makes it easier to scan, read and identify you as the prefered candidate.

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

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

Click here – CareerPolish.com – to find out more about how we can help you.
★ To get all my latest articles, click the “Yes Please!” button on the right ★