The Infestation of Fleas in Your Job Search

 

I have three dogs.  Three spoiled, indoor and office dogs.  If you call our office you might, just might, here a glimpse of them, although they are pretty well trained to know the sound of the phone triggers quiet time on their part.  That might just be the only way they are trained.

 

Being in the office every day and quite spoiled any other time, they see the great outdoors only to take care of nature calling and brisk walks in the neighborhood. In other words, these are not the hang outside all day kind of dogs.

 

I have not had a problem with fleas in years. 

 

Until this week. We are house sitting and in the evenings they have been enjoying the most beautiful backyard.  Of course they are forced to because I am greatly enjoying the overhanging trees, abundance of flowers, soothing sounds of the pond and many sightings of squirrels, hummingbirds, butterflies and more.  Forced because these spoiled little things will not go anywhere without me.

 

The other day I noticed one of my dogs scratching and doing the quick turns on his rear end with a quizzical look.  I did not think much of it because this is the same dog that gets frightened every time he passes gas.

 

He started scratching a bit more.  Then another one started scratching a little. Pretty soon it became a scratching party. About this time, while sitting outside, I happened to look down and noticed little black jumpy things lingering on my socks.  Uh oh.

 

As an over-analyzer, I immediately took to Google to learn all I could about these nasty little creatures.  Turns out, this beautiful yard is not only a heaven for me, but for fleas, too.  Awesome.  Off to the store I went – flea treatments for both the dogs and yard.  Yippee.

 

How on earth can such little jumpy things cause such distress?  Seriously, they are miniscule; and yet, wreaked havoc on my poor puppies – and me.

 

Now that we are comfortably enjoying some quiet time in the peaceful oasis, the connection to job searching hit me – doubt is fleas.

 

When first job searching you might start full of confidence, hope and positivity.  After sending out a resume or two the first flea jumps on: a flicker of doubt. It is easy to brush that one off and think it is your dogs getting werided out by his own farts, but then a bit more time passes and another couple fleas/doubts jump on board.

 

Things start to turn from a mild irritation Maybe they didn’t receive it to an annoying scratch I keep sending them out and not getting a response to a full on infestation Am I not good enough, am I over qualified, am I underqualified, I know I can do this – why are they ignoring me, I am getting responses to jobs I don’t want but nothing on the ones I do, am I too old, do I not have the right experience or education, what is wrong with me?

 

It is time to get the flea removal stuff.  And it stinks, but it is worth it.

 

First treatment – every time another flea/doubt jumps on or bites, recognize it and kill it immediately.  Am I not qualifiedsquash!of course I am!

 

Second treatment – look at your environment, this is your branding materials: your resume, networking communication, LinkedIn etc. Remove all fleas/doubt in those.  Make sure your resume is speaking to your value, not your duties.  What did you do, how did you do it, how did others benefit – this is the ROI of hiring you that potential investors (employers) want to see.

 

Third treatment – keep repeating the first treatment while reaching out to your network to convey what you are looking for in a way that they understand, identify for you and connect to you.  If they are not in your industry, do not confuse them with industry jargon. Ask for help and advice, yet use what feels right to you. Research ‘flea eradication’ and you will get a multitude of suggestions, but not everything is going to work for you.

 

Fourth treatment – stop trying to treat things that are not there.  Some products boasted that they killed certain other bugs – guess what, we don’t have them in this area.  Applying for jobs you do not want is a double whammy.  It feels twice as bad to get rejected for something you didn’t even want in the first place!

 

Fifth treatment – give yourself a flea bath, i.e., take time to relax and keep things in perspective.  Hiring is not always a one day deal.  There is a lot of time and money invested in finding quality candidates and it is during this process that time stands still.  Remember to relax, treat yourself and keep killing any stray fleas/doubts as soon as they pop up.

 

These little suckers do not start in a hoard, they build up to infestation just as doubt does.  Recognize it, treat it step by step and soon your confidence will be back and the right offer will be presented to you.

✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰

As the Founder and Principle of Career Polish, Inc., a national career coaching and practice firm, I am an Executive Brand Strategist, Resume Writer and Career Coach. I work with individual clients, companies, leadership and teams to identify, strengthen and effectively communicate their brand, engagement, commitment and most importantly – their value – by learning and leveraging LinkedIn, resumes, networking, communication, relationship management, presence and influence.
I help people get from where they are in their jobs to where they want to be in their careers.

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

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

Help Your Network Help You Get The Job You Want

 

nyc-subway-7

I had never been to New York City until this week.  All I can say is – I am going back.  I was there two days, walked over 20 miles and barely scratched the surface on things to experience, see and do.  I will not even start on the food, let’s just say it is a good thing I put on over 20 miles on the sneakers or I would come back looking like Violet from Willy Wonka after the bubble gum incident.

The trip was fantastic and we were so proud to say we were getting the hang of the subways.  We spoke too soon.  The last train back to the hotel after a full day of experiencing and we were exhausted.  We knew the station we needed to get off on so instead of plotting it out ourselves, we asked the subway expert for instructions.  We needed to go to Flushing.

Flushing Brooklyn that is.

It is not where we ended up.

We went to Flushing in Queens.

For anyone familiar with New York City, you are welcome for the laugh.  For anyone not familiar, these two places are, according to Mapquest, about an hour away via subway. They are not close.  There was a bit of backtracking before we were headed in the right direction.

I was not upset at the little impromptu adventure added to our trip, after all, who could I get mad at?  We asked for instructions for Flushing – we just did not specify – so we left it up to whomever we were talking with to fill in the blanks.

This is what can happen when job searching.  If you simply tell your friends, family and network that you are ‘looking for a job’ they might send you to Queens.  How do they know you want Brooklyn and not Queens if you do not specify?  It is not their fault, you left it way too open and allowed them to fill in the blanks.

To be honest, you do not want just any job.  I saw several people this week working tremendously hard at jobs I would not want to do or could not do.  Do you want to be the guy in the shop that cooks the ducks that are still staring at you as they roast?  How about the one stocking the local mart with the live frogs on the end cap?  Or a delivery driver in the heart of NYC?  Oh heck no!

You need to be specific when speaking to your network, yet speak in a language they understand.  When buying Dragon Fruit at the Asian market, we found unique ways of communicating as we had a very limited shared communication platform.

Use words that your network can relate to and more importantly, understand to repeat.  Do not simply leave it at a title or industry.  The only thing your network knows about titles or industries is this: what they have personally experienced or heard from their network.

Leaving it to simply an industry is much too vague.  Information Technology, that means nothing.  The possibilities within that industry are endless. Do you work on a help desk, system programming, analytics, accounting, sales – what do you do?  Then explain it in a way that relates to your audience.

Think of from their eyes. If you work with the help desk in some capacity, think about how they would interact with you or your department.  Perhaps saying something like, “You know when your company updates a system and the next morning you’re completely frozen out….I’m the guy/gal that makes sure that doesn’t happen.”

Give them something they can relate to and repeat to help you get to the right station in life and not wandering around for another hour stopping at every unrelated stop along the way.

✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰

As the Founder and Principle of Career Polish, Inc., a national career coaching and practice firm, I am an Executive Brand Strategist, Resume Writer and Career Coach. I work with individual clients, companies, leadership and teams to identify, strengthen and effectively communicate their brand, engagement, commitment and most importantly – their value – by learning and leveraging LinkedIn, resumes, networking, communication, relationship management, presence and influence.
I help people get from where they are in their jobs to where they want to be in their careers.

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

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

Not Looking For A Job Is The Perfect Time To Prepare For a New Job

cleats - preparing resume for new job when employed

As a parent, I think we all have that one saying or phrase that absolutely drives our kids crazy. If you would ask my son I am sure it would be ‘you lack of planning does not constitute an emergency on my part’.

He would ‘forget’ about projects, deadlines or responsibilities and somehow it would spill over to me. Finding 24-hour stores to buy poster board or other supplies; finding cleats that would fit him, were the right color and would actually last past two games at the last possible minute or completing forms on the way to school.

He would get in quite the tizzy about the impending deadline and be frustrated with me because I did not alter my speed in helping complete the impending doomed task.  This is when the phrase would come into play.

He did not like the fact that I did not take on the urgency of the situation.  He asked me once why I did not and I told him because, quite frankly, it was not mine.  He knew, even without specific deadlines, that preparation was needed, yet failed to plan and prepare.

You do not do 2-a-day practices not knowing you are going to need new season cleats.  C’mon.

Maybe your job has been stable, given you the opportunity to learn something new – yet you  know you are going to want to leave. You are not quite fulfilled or you see a change in the industry or company that does not sit right with you.  Perhaps you are content, it is good enough, although if another opportunity comes up you would certainly entertain it, even though you are not looking.

You are at 2-a-days.

You are actually preparing for the next step in your career even if you are not fully aware of it.  There is one missing piece – what if that opportunity does come, out of the blue – then what?

Are you fully prepared?  Can you translate what you are doing to what you want to do?  Can you communicate effectively how you can easily move from one position to the next?  In other words: is your resume and interview prep ready?

I hope so.  Your break can happen any time, ready or not, it can happen.

I do hear people say that the resume is dead.  No, not really.  You see, it not only serves as a document that companies keep on file for their official records, as a means to introduce yourself to the right audience – it serves a greater purpose.

It helps you identify and communicate the  most important aspect of you as a contributing employee: your value.

What do you bring to the table?  It is not your current job description or any job description for that matter.  Those things are what you were hired to do.

Your value is what you do, how you do it and how others receive benefit from it.

You manage a team.  Yawn.  What does that mean?  What kind of manager are you?  Do you bark out orders, give numbers then keep locked in an office demanding quotas be met?  Or are you the roll-up-the-sleeves-in-the-weeds with your team get it done, motivating, mentoring manager?  Saying you are a manager does not give the slightest inkling into your value.

Oversee a budget.  Boring.  What does that mean?  Compile reports. Snooze. What information is included, where do you get it, how do you put it together and who uses it for what purpose?

Translating value into a resume is not just for the reader – it is for you.  When you compose a resume that is value driven demonstrating rather than stating you get the benefit.  This is your sales statement.  Before you can sell any product you have to know it inside and out.

Putting together your resume gives you the complete information about the product – you; the benefits, features, strengths and return on investment.  Knowing this information you can ace interviewing and networking by being able to adapt your sales statement to any audience.

When you try to put together this tools critical for career progression at the last minute it will most likely turn out like the 11th hour school poster board project.  Is that how you want to present yourself to an ideal opportunity that just fell in your lap?

If you are not actively looking for a job now is an ideal time to start putting your resume together.  There is no pressure or deadline that is breathing down your back.  Also, hiring a professional resume writer at the 11th hour is not going to guarantee success.  Many do not do immediate turn around because we understand that an effective resume is not simply translating your job duties into pretty bullet points within 24 hours.

Start now.  Take an old job think about what you did, how, who you worked with, how you worked with them and how they received benefit by you doing what you did.  This is the foundation of value.  You then have plenty of time to review, add, edit, tweak, evaluate, walk away, tweak some more and have a baseline ready.

That way when an ideal opportunity appears – or a worst case scenario (downsizing, mergers, closings etc.) all you have to do is a bit of tweaking and can engage immediately.  As Henry Hartman so eloquently said:

“Success always comes when preparation meets opportunity”

✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰

As the Founder and Principle of Career Polish, Inc., a national career coaching and practice firm, I am an Executive Brand Strategist, Resume Writer and Career Coach. I work with individual clients, companies, leadership and teams to identify, strengthen and effectively communicate their brand, engagement, commitment and most importantly – their value – by learning and leveraging LinkedIn, resumes, networking, communication, relationship management, presence and influence.
I help people get from where they are in their jobs to where they want to be in their careers.

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

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

Resumes – It Is Not Their Job To Care, It Is Your Job To Make Them Care

bored professionals

Once upon a time, it was standard format to have an opening statement on your resume stating what you want.  It went something like, “Amazing professional looking for the opportunity to grow and contribute to a progressive company….”

The problem with that today is twofold: The people reading your resume do not believe that nor do they care what you want.

It is not their job to care about what you want.  It is your job to make them care about what you offer. The focus of this article is that opening paragraph or lead of your resume.

Your resume is not really all about you – it is about what you can do for them.  Put yourself in their position: they have a boatload of yahoos applying for the position that you are perfect for – how are they going to find you?

You have to prove yourself.  You need to grab their attention by speaking their language and driving right to what is important to them and how you are the solution to their needs.

This opening paragraph needs to grab them and their interest to continue to read the rest of your resume.  To identify your value and peak enough interest for a conversation.

When I write resumes, this opening is the last thing I write.  I do a comprehensive analysis, review and composition of the work history to get a full understanding of my clients’ value.  I know in detail and have provided in demonstrative form their value.

Now I know what I am selling about them.  I know their value.  From that I can write to that in a condensed, attention getting manner.  It is the summary of the whole.

When writing your opening, analyze yourself and what it is about you that you are selling.

What do you bring to the table?  What are the most important qualities, skills, attributes that you bring that are of most value to them?  What sets you apart?

Often I see an opening stating that the individual has 15 years’ experience – is that the most important element?  It could be an important contributing factor, yet length of time in an organization or industry does not equate to quality or value.  What did you do in those 15 years, how is that a benefit?

That opening paragraph is your answer to their most important question: ‘What can you do for me?’

Do not let them assume.  It is not enough to say you are familiar with something, knowledge of it or have managed it.  You are assuming that they know that means you are good at this thing.  Telling the reader that you have managed a large group of people or locations does not mean you are good at it.  It means that was what your job was, not your value.

What was the value of you managing these people or locations?  How did you do it?  Who benefited and how – the individuals, teams, clients and company; was their improved performance, morale, communication, commitment, quality, service, revenues, opportunities – and what did that translate to?

Tell the reader not only what you do but why that is important.  You can manage a team but why is that important, what was the value?  Start with the meager ‘manage team of 50’ and integrate the value: aligned the company vision with short and long term goals engaging the team; reduced turnover, improved performance, realized year over year record setting profits, streamlined processes for reduced costs, increased efficiency and improved customer satisfaction.

Do not hold back here, you are selling yourself so go for it.  If you have that very common and huge stumbling block of that little voice in your head saying you are bragging, put the proof in the pudding.  Instead of saying “I’m great at this” and leaving it at that – which is a bragging type perspective; tell them what you do, how you do it and the value received.

When you simply describe what and how you do with the benefit included you are no longer bragging, you are explaining.  This is also demonstrating.  Therefore it sounds confident, not cocky, and you can relax because you are simply telling the story of what you do and how.  It helps shut that little voice in your head up. You are describing and demonstrating not bragging and stating.

You have the goods to go after this position, now it is your job to prove it to the reader.  Think about what is important to them, demonstrate it by describing what you do and the value it provides others and you are well on your way to that conversation about when can you start.

✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰

As the Founder and Principle of Career Polish, Inc., a national career coaching and practice firm, I am an Executive Brand Strategist, Resume Writer and Career Coach. I work with individual clients, companies, leadership and teams to identify, strengthen and effectively communicate their brand, engagement, commitment and most importantly – their value – by learning and leveraging LinkedIn, resumes, networking, communication, relationship management, presence and influence.
I help people get from where they are in their jobs to where they want to be in their careers.

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

★ In order to be kept up to date on all my articles – click the “Yes Please!” button ★

Is Your Mouth Cutting You Off From Your Network?

covering mouth

It fascinates me how it really is a small world. I really do think there is something to the theory of six degrees of separation.  It is fun discovering the connections with people that you meet.

These connections can help forge strong networks and connections.  People in your network remember you because of something shared.

Sometimes the connections are made by one party but not in a good way.

Years ago, I had a young man ask for time to conduct an informational interview.  He was very eager to enter in the financial industry, and to please whomever he was sitting in front of at the time. He had transferred from another state and had talked to someone in banking before speaking to me (I was in investments).

When discussing the differences between banking and investments he said he talked to a woman in the other state, but she didn’t know anything about the industry. I asked what bank and he told me and the woman’s first name and title.

As luck would have it, he talked to my best friend, which I casually tossed out there.  The interview ended shortly after, he was a bit at a loss for words having insulted my best friend – and not being honest because that woman knows more about the industry than anyone I know.

You never know who knows whom. People should really keep this in mind when networking.  You may think people from a certain town are back-water hicks, but for goodness sake, do not say that out loud!  Insulting other people is not a way to align yourself with someone else.

Neither is assuming they are idiots. I was at a networking event once and met a financial advisor. He liked to dictate conversations and let everyone know how important he is and so much smarter than his audience.

A friend and I were talking to him, well, listening to him talk about investment strategies. At one point, he paused and looked at me and said (in a voice you would use with a young child) “I can explain the difference between stocks and bonds to you later if you need.”

My friend about choked on his drink, he knew my background.  I smiled politely and told him that it would be very kind of him but I do have an idea of the difference between the two.  I tried.  I really tried to give him an out in a very polite manner.  But he was having nothing of it.  He persisted that investing could be very complicated for someone not in the industry so I really shouldn’t assume I know enough to make any decisions or know the difference.

That was it.  I said I should know the difference since I am a former manager and compliance offer having held my 7, 63, 65, 9, and 10 and I also know about insurance having held my 26, Life & Health and Property & Casualty.  (I was licensed as a stockbroker and manager in both investments and insurance).

The point is this – treat everyone in your network with respect. Our backgrounds make us unique, not put us at a disadvantage or beneath anyone else.  There is pride in our past. Being disrespectful of a person’s background or upbringing does not align you with ‘the right people’ it alienates you from people.

Celebrate differences and focus on what you have in common and how you can help others.  That will build strong bridges that lead to incredible opportunities.

 ✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰

As the Founder and Principle of Career Polish, Inc., a national career coaching and practice firm, I am an Executive Brand Strategist, Resume Writer and Career Coach. I work with individual clients, companies, leadership and teams to identify, strengthen and effectively communicate their brand, engagement, commitment and most importantly – their value – by learning and leveraging LinkedIn, resumes, networking, communication, relationship management, presence and influence.
I help people get from where they are in their jobs to where they want to be in their careers.

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

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

 

2 Questions That Should Define Your LinkedIn Profile

two

I get asked a lot about how to write a LinkedIn profile.

  • What should I say?
  • How long should it be?
  • What if I don’t want anyone to know I am looking for a job?
  • I’m not looking so how should it sound?
  • What should I include?
  • Should it sound like my resume?
  • How much stuff should I put in the profile?

These are all good questions; however, there are two questions that should be asked before any others:

 Who do you want to read your profile?

What do you want them to know about you?

Although these are the foundation of your summary; most people cannot answer it.

They caught a case of analysis paralysis.  There is an overwhelming amount of information available on how to write your LinkedIn profile we have forgotten the why.

The why is the who and what – who are you targeting and what do you want them to know. The answers to those two questions help you answer all others.

Let’s say, for example, that you want someone to know that you are a sales rock star.

Who do you want to know this – is it potential clients?  Or perhaps, although not actively looking for a job, you would not mind high level decision makers to take notice.

You have a good place to start – rock star. What else?  Dig here.  Ask yourself ‘what else” about five more times.  This will help you create a stronger, more personal representation of who you are – not just what you do.

So, what else?

  • You are competitive and like to win (still compete running marathons)
  • You like challenges (seeking out new markets and making a name for your company)
  • You like helping other people (help coach the new guys when they come on board and sit down with your clients to come up with solutions instead of selling them a product)
  • You can’t get enough information (always reading new content, attending training or coaching to improve your skills, going back to school, taking classes on woodworking because it has always interested you)
  • You coach little league and volunteer at the humane society

The things you want people to know about you go beyond your professional skills  – they incorporate your personal strengths.  Who you are as a person and how that translates to making you a rock star.  LinkedIn is a step beyond the resume, a peek behind the curtain so to speak, for people to see you, not just your career.

Now that you have some what’s to tell, let’s turn back to your audience.  I want you to think like them.  Why is it important for them to know these things about you?  Why would they care?  In our example, being competitive, striving to continually improve yourself, giving to others as a solution provider or mentor are all strong qualities of top performers and leaders. Giving back to your community shows you have a good balance in life and further rings true the giving back to others and helping.

You also want to put the proof in the pudding – give some accomplishments to complete the value statements.  If you provide solutions to your clients, that equates to money.  Making money for a company and helping your clients make money is good.  This is something they would want to know.

Once you know who you are speaking to (who you want to read your profile) and what you want them to know about you, it will become much easier to have that conversation.  Your summary is a conversation – a one-on-one conversation with the person reading your profile.

Click here for a quick synopsis and basic formula for writing a LinkedIn profile that supports where you are while showcasing yourself.  Although the article speaks to writing a profile looking for a job while employed, this formula is a good foundation to begin any profile.

 ✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰

As the Founder and Principle of Career Polish, Inc., a national career coaching and practice firm, I am an Executive Brand Strategist, Resume Writer and Career Coach. I work with individual clients, companies, leadership and teams to identify, strengthen and effectively communicate their brand, engagement, commitment and most importantly – their value – by learning and leveraging LinkedIn, resumes, networking, communication, relationship management, presence and influence.
I help people get from where they are in their jobs to where they want to be in their careers.

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

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

How 3 Men Determine What I Post & The Importance of Social Media Yardsticks

three generations of men

My dad gave me one of the greatest pieces of advice when I went to college: if you are ever unsure what to do or say, just imagine me standing next to you.

I found this to be invaluable, so much so, that I still hear this in my head and subscribe to it to this day.  My dad has been gone for over 20 years and yet I often imagine him standing right next to me.

My dad was one of my biggest supporters and grounders.  He kept me grounded instilling a foundation of treating others with respect, honesty, working hard, taking care of family and friends.  He supported me by never letting me settle for less than I deserve or want.

Imagining him next to me has helped me stand up for myself, go after bigger goals and maybe a time or two keeping me out of trouble.  Okay, lots of times.

I told my son this same advice.  He has yet to see the wisdom in it.  *sigh*

My son was an athlete.  There were many times I had to imagine my dad standing next to me at his games.  My son would sometimes comment that he was surprised at my restraint. I explained that as his mom, my behavior reflects on him.  This he listened to and understood my perspective on image.

There is one thing about my son – he is a very protective boy.  He grew up with a single mother who scared the crap out of his friends, yet he is still very protective.  He is also very proud of my company and very alert to anything that could look detrimental to my image, career or person.

The point of this little family reminiscing is this – I have two yardsticks to measure against before I put anything out there.  Not only do they always have my back – I also represent them.

I represent my company, my son, my parents and family.  How does what I say reflect on them?

LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and any medium in which you can freely express your opinion or thoughts that are instantly accessible does not come with yardsticks.  How often have we read stories of someone who whipped out a tweet that they instantly regretted – yet haunted them and caused major destruction?

My boyfriend is an officer in the military.  I now add him to the mix.  As his partner, I am a reflection of him, too.

Just a gentle reminder for the day and suggestion: before you hit submit – ask yourself this question: would you dad, mom, child or significant other be okay with what you are putting out there?

Would you be representing them well?

I am absolutely dedicated to my profession and clients; yet my family – that is a whole new level. I would be devastated if I were to do anything that would embarrass or disrespect them.  My brand is not just about me, my company or my profession.  It is about the person that I am and my core values. Staying true and respectful to those things translates to my company and profession.

 

 ✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰

As the Founder and Principle of Career Polish, Inc., a national career coaching and practice firm, I am an Executive Brand Strategist, Resume Writer and Career Coach. I work with individual clients, companies, leadership and teams to identify, strengthen and effectively communicate their brand, engagement, commitment and most importantly – their value – by learning and leveraging LinkedIn, resumes, networking, communication, relationship management, presence and influence.
I help people get from where they are in their jobs to where they want to be in their careers.

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

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

Tell Me I Am Old School One. More. Time.

tell me i am old school one more time

Caveat: This article has generalizations that could translate to assumptions about entire groups of people That is not the intent. It is written from my personal perspective and experiences.  If you are a young person who is going to be offended by me calling you a young person and making a generalization about young people and their behaviors – stop reading or suck it up, cupcake. This is how us old schoolers roll.

I recently read an article which suggested sending a letter.  An honest-to-goodness-snail-mail letter.  One of the comments after the article was, “Man, have you heard of email? Paper mail is wasteful and dated and SLOW.”

Translation: “you are so old school”

Translation: “you are old, outdated, not cool, unhip” or whatever other phrases young people are using now.

Damn straight I am old school. And yes, I feel even older using the phrase “young people” but guess what, I am going to keep using it. Because I am old school, outdated, back in the day, uncool and unhip.

I love hearing young people bemoan ‘old school’: “that is slow, that is a waste of time, whine, cry, too much effort, sniff, eye roll, takes too long….”

I am closing in on a half century and over this time I have seen amazing transformations. I remember being all excited seeing a digital clock for the first time.  I was a weird kid, whatever.  Now I have a computer in my hand.

There are better, faster, easier, more efficient ways to communicate or do things; that is true.  Yet here is the point that old schoolers get that youngsters do not:

The communication and actions are not about the words you use or things you do, but how it makes others feel.

It takes extra time and thought to write a hand written thank you note.  It would be easier to whip off a text or email. Wham bam thank you ma’am mark that off my list.  But if someone were to thank you via text or email, how would you feel as compared to a note card in your hand in their writing?

 Appreciated.

Someone took the time, their time, to put thought and effort into thanking you.

So tell me, you young whippersnapper, that I am old-school like it is a bad thing one more time.  You want to know old school? Here are some other old school things that me and my back in the day crowd do, some being gender specific:

  •  Hold doors for people.
  • Smile and have small talk in grocery lines.
  • Keep our phones in our pockets during coffee, dinner or any other meeting.
  • Listen and engage in eye contact.
  • Not photograph every moment but enjoy them instead.
  • Ask questions, be interested in the person we are talking to.
  • Stand when a lady approaches the table.
  • Hold the chair while she is sitting down.
  • Defer ordering first.
  • Offer to help when there is nothing in it for us.
  • Sew on our own buttons.
  • Use pots and pans not microwaves.
  • Slow down.
  • Take chances, we are less concerned about looking stupid in front of our friends – they have had years to know we are crazy.
  • Laugh at ourselves.
  • Talk to our friends when we get together.
  • Encourage each other instead of compete.
  • Cherish and show respect for our elders.  That means our parents and grandparents and other people’s parents and grandparents. To you young people – elders is old people.
  • Say ‘ma’am’ and ‘sir’.
  • Say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’.
  • Make plans – not five minutes in advance.
  • Respect other people’s time.
  • Don’t look for ways to get offended, look for ways to make it happen for us.

I am not saying all young people do not do these things or all us old people do; this is me and the old folks I know.

You know the benefit to me of being old school? I am happy.  I love what I do, love who I am, love the experiences I encounter and the people I interact with on a daily basis. I know who I am, what I am, what I want, and am limitless because of these things.

So, yes, I am old-school. You say that like it is a bad thing.  I see it as a recognition that I still hold true to the values that my parents and grandparents taught me.

  • Do unto others as you would have them do unto you
  • You catch more flies with honey than vinegar
  • How you make others feel about themselves says a lot about you
  • The only time you should look down on a person is when you are helping them get up
  • Respect all people regardless of their situation, position, status or title

These are things that no technology or time-saving efficiencies can ever replace, nor the way they make others feel when we do them.

 ✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰

As the Founder and Principle of Career Polish, Inc., a national career coaching and practice firm, I am an Executive Brand Strategist, Resume Writer and Career Coach. I work with individual clients, companies, leadership and teams to identify, strengthen and effectively communicate their brand, engagement, commitment and most importantly – their value – by learning and leveraging LinkedIn, resumes, networking, communication, relationship management, presence and influence.
I help people get from where they are in their jobs to where they want to be in their careers.

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

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

How Do You Explain You?

how to you explain you

One of my favorite quotes and guiding principles comes courtesy of the great Albert Einstein:

“If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”

This is something I learned from my dad.  Heaven help that man, he was ‘blessed’ with a very curious daughter who liked to ask a lot of questions – most of them “why?”

He had an amazing teaching capacity being able to translate the complicated into something a young mind could grasp, understand and replicate.  This is how I learned to use power tools before jr high, the delicacy of baiting a hook and driving a stick shift – in about 20 minutes.

He knew the key for me: explain the why while describing the how.

Knowing your audience, understanding their language and explaining something simply was how he helped me move mountains.

When you are staring at the mountain of career change, it is important to remember these three key elements, which bears repeating.

Know your audience

Understand their language

Explain simply

The first two are the easier of the three to accomplish.  If changing industries – do your research; if you are advancing in your current field – rely upon your expertise in the field.  You will be able to identify the decision makers, what their challenges are and make the correlation to your strengths and accomplishments demonstrating you and the value you offer as a solution.

Explaining simply is hard.

We have a tendency to use too many words.  As an Executive Resume Writer – I know of what I speak.  I do it, too. Ask any of my clients and they will tell you that when I send them their working draft I give the caveat – this is too long and too wordy.

I do it intentionally.  I want them to get the full effect, to see all the words to comprehend the concept.  The next step is the fun part – we rip it apart. We tear through all those words and simplify.  We cut to the core, cut to the chase, cut the crap.

I could do this on the first draft, but I like them to see it this way for a couple of reasons: we like words, we feel like we get a better understanding of words.  Seeing too many words also makes you realize that there are too many words.  This strengthens the process.  If we started with the cut to the core they might feel we missed something.

The other reason is that my process is a collaborative process.  My clients have skin in the game; the more they are engaged and are a part of the process, the more they engage and own their tools.  This leads to them loving them more and utilizing them more effectively.

When people ask you what you do – are you explaining it simply enough?  After thirty seconds, you lost them – it is not simple enough.  Do they ask questions, are the engaged and want to know more?  If not, it is not simple enough.

One way to help simplify how you describe you is to think about how would you explain it to a child?  Think teenager or preteen.  Old enough to grasp things but with a short attention span.  We all have short attention spans when it comes to asking others what they do, kids are just not as good as faking it as adults.

If you can explain it to this age group and they get it – you are spot on. Not only will they understand, they will be able to repeat the information, i.e. sell you.

Years ago in between football practices my son brought a buddy home to raid the fridge and hang out.  I overheard the conversation and I knew I was spot on in how I communicated to him.

His friend asked what I did and my son told him I help people get jobs.  At this point I wanted to jump in and correct him because that made me sound like I do recruiting or placement (which I do not).  But something held me back and I listened out of eyesight.

This is when the magic unfolded.

His friend asked how.  Tada – my son phrased it in a way for his audience to ask a question.

He explained that I work with them in re-writing their resumes, help with interviewing and all the stuff that helps them get a job.  Alrighty then.

The next day his friend’s dad called and hired me.  Bingo – my son explained it in a way his audience could understand and sell me to others.

Using big words, industry jargon or a whole host of fluff does not impress or improve your message – it dilutes it.

Explain it simply and people will connect.  This is how you start moving that mountain.

✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰

As the Founder and Principle of Career Polish, Inc., a national career coaching and practice firm, I am an Executive Brand Strategist, Resume Writer and Career Coach. I work with individual clients, companies, leadership and teams to identify, strengthen and effectively communicate their brand, engagement, commitment and most importantly – their value – by learning and leveraging LinkedIn, resumes, networking, communication, relationship management, presence and influence.
I help people get from where they are in their jobs to where they want to be in their careers.

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

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

 

 

Too Many Bumps On Your Career Path – It Might Be The Driver, Not The Road

Alone in a Crowd

I have an acquaintance that I run into now and then.  Over the past couple of years, all interactions have been a series of phases retelling of the evolution of a continual job search.

Phase one: Each new position starts all bright and shiny.  This is the one, much better than the last. Here he can really do what he does best, it is a great fit. Here they appreciate him.

Phase two: There seems to be a problem with communications.  His boss just doesn’t get him.  His coworkers are not appreciating his talents and contributions. It is not his fault, he is just direct and they do not appreciate it.

Phase three: His boss or coworkers are either conspiring against him or total jerks.

Phase four: It had been decided it was not a good fit and he is searching again.

There are managers who stink and ungrateful, attention-sucking coworkers – but not at Every. Single. Job.

With each trip on this merry-go-round a phrase pops into my head: “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.”

Cassius is eloquently telling Brutus that it is not the environment or fate that is preventing them from stopping Caesar from becoming a monarch, it is themselves.

If there is a pattern emerging in your career path, perhaps it is time to stop looking externally and look a little closer to home.  Like home.

Often times these patterns develop unconsciously.  Perhaps we took a position just in dire need of a job and the position is something that we feel is not ‘worthy’ of our skills or abilities.  This builds resentment.  This spills over to how we treat our coworkers, leadership and clients.  This leads to the end and taking another ‘have to’ job.  The cycle continues and worsens.

Or maybe we had great success working in a certain environment which embraced the more abrasiveness in our personality.  Fast forward to another position and no one gets the warm and fuzzies and we justify our behavior with, “this is just the way I am.”  In other words you are telling people suck it up, they should accept you for who you are.

These are just two scenarios and for these – not so much cupcake. I am all about accepting people for who they are – unless they are abusive, abrasive or just plain mean to others.  Then they are buttheads and no one is obligated to like them.

As far as the first scenario, no job is beneath any person. Period. I had a job once where a dog drooled on my head – and that was a good day.

I am a direct person, I do not have a poker face.  I was once told by a manager that everyone could look at me and know that I was having a great day….and if I wasn’t. The conversation got worse from there.

I had to learn to tone it down.  To take other people in consideration.  They may have mistaken my message and I had to stop blaming them for it.  I had to do the hard look at in the mirror and realize perhaps they misunderstood due to the delivery, not the content.

I went through the gambit of total people pleaser to brash directives.  Looking back gives me whiplash.  I felt that no matter what I did I was wrong.  The hardest thing I had to do was shut up and listen, then ask.  I talked to coworkers, the ones that we normally had strained conversations.  I was honest and asked for honest, constructive feedback.  It was not easy listening to what they had to say, but I needed to hear it.

I learned to be true to myself and honor others around me.  In any position you have tremendous amount of value to offer an organization and people around you  – yet here is the key – you are not an island.

It is important how people perceive your message, it is critical how you communicate and treat others.  Just because you have an obnoxious personality does not mean others have to get used to it.  It means you need to learn to adjust so others can get to know you – not your brashness – and be able to benefit from your value and you from theirs.

Know your strengths and style then learn modifications to help use those as positives.

Here is an example of a small modification that made a huge difference.  I ask a lot of questions.  Being a direct and somewhat blunt person, this could be taken as challenging authority or disagreeing.  It was – a lot.

I learned to preface questions with buffers like, “Just so I make sure that I understand this completely…” or “I think I am clear on this, but I want to make sure…”

There are times that I start with, “I am not challenging, I agree, I just want to make sure I am on the same page…”

Taking your audience into account during your communication makes a world of difference.  Not everyone is going to get you or what you mean because they are not you.

If you can identify that the fault is not in the stars, take that next step and ask for feedback.  It may be brutal, yet remember this – people will not offer this insight if they did not see something in you worthy of wanting to help.  Constructive criticism is help.

You may gain insight to be able to make a slight adjustment that will make a world of difference.

✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰

As the Founder and Principle of Career Polish, Inc., a national career coaching and practice firm, I am an Executive Brand Strategist, Resume Writer and Career Coach. I work with individual clients, companies, leadership and teams to identify, strengthen and effectively communicate their brand, engagement, commitment and most importantly – their value – by learning and leveraging LinkedIn, resumes, networking, communication, relationship management, presence and influence.
I help people get from where they are in their jobs to where they want to be in their careers.

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

★ In order to be kept up to date on all my articles click the “Yes Please!” button