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

not listening

 

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

Two things hit me one day:

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

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

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

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

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

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

It was not a stupid idea.

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

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

I had been helping people.

I loved it.

It wasn’t about the money.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Would You Hire You?

Jake and me 2014

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

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

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

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

There was a method to my madness.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here is the thing – you DO know.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

keywords

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

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

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

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

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

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

General and Specific Keywords

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Context

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

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

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

Use keywords to demonstrate.

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

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

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

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

Saturation

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

Is Your Resume Speaking Their Language?

resume-speak-their-language

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here is the word cloud for this article:

tagcrowd-example-within-article

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

who-is-reading-your-communication

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This was the good part – there was communication.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰

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

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

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

 

Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions Away From Me

new years picture

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

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

The most painful of all – the obligatory resolutions.

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

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

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

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

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

That’s right – celebrate.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why, yes, I do.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Resumes: “Do NOT” ~ “Never” ~ “Always Avoid” – Enough Already!

burning resume

 

Being on a treadmill at 5 am is not my idea of a good time. I am not a morning person. Since it is safest for me not to talk to people that early in the morning, I normally peruse the news and LinkedIn.

I am not sure if it was that I am recovering from a nasty cold or the gentle reminder that I should not take the holidays off from the gym, but this morning was not only a little more painful than most, it was also very negative out there.

Scrolling through the articles I kept running across the most negative articles, things sounding similar to:

“X Things to Avoid at All Costs on Your Resume”

“What You Are Doing Wrong On Your Resume”

“Why Your Resume Stinks”

“Why You are Not Getting Hired”

“Why No One Wants to Interview You”

Two days after the holidays and the newsfeed turned all bah-humbug! Geesh!

Job searching in itself can be stressful; add in the holidays and it can really increase the stress factor.  Maybe it is just me, but I do not think smack in between the new year and merriment holidays is the time to scare the crap or chastise job seekers.

Let’s keep some of that holiday cheer.

So for anyone who is feeling their hand smacked a little by all the negativity, here are 5 things you are doing right:

  1. You are trying.
  2. You have a resume.
  3. You are not believing all the hype.
  4. You are looking forward.
  5. You are seeking the good.

These may not seem like big things, but they are, these can be the most important things anyone can do for success.

It is easy to get discouraged and stop trying. To keep trying takes guts.

There are no absolutes with resumes. If you read every article, compare notes and try to do exactly what each one says your head is going to explode.  There is a plethora of information available to guide you in writing your resume, the problem is, a lot of this information is contradictory.  One page, no two pages; include a summary, no make it a bulleted outline; do this no do that!  Enough already.

When reading all the articles, suggestions and tips what resonates with you? That is how you do not believe the hype – stay true to yourself. If it feels right to you, go with it. If your career life cannot be contained in a snazzy, condensed one page – then by all means, make it a solid, value-driven two.

No matter what is going on right now, no matter what rejection has come to pass, you are still looking. That means you are still looking forward – good for you. Something will hit, you will find the right job, at the right time in the way it is right for you. Keep going.

By continuing to move forward you are looking for the good. You believe there is something good that is going to come of all this, and you know what – it will.

Take a break from all the negative reviews and advice right now. Give yourself a pat on the back for the things you are doing right and remember these two things:

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” – Lao Tzu

“Put one foot in front of the other and soon you’ll be walking out the door.” – Kris Kringle/The Evil Winter Warlock, Santa Clause is Coming to Town.

 

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

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

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

It Is Useless To Job Search During The Holiday Season

santa-holiday-job-search-tips

Without a plan, that is.

I do not know who decided that job searching during the holidays was a bad idea. The origin does not matter, I only wish the idea would stop perpetuating.

There are plenty of benefits and considerations about searching during the holiday. Although some searches slow down or are temporarily delayed during this time, there are plenty of opportunities still available and interviews to score. Here are five considerations:

  1. Some companies have a need due to a recent “reorganization” at the end of the year or by staff giving notice to take advantage of time off coupled with holiday closing. Candidates will be needed to fill these needs at the start of the new year.
  2. There is less competition because so many take the ill advice of taking a full break during the holidays.
  3. Holiday hiring has its own timeline. It requires flexibility and patience to accommodate staff taking time off before they lose it at the end of the year, holiday parties and companies closing for a day.
  4. If you do not hear by the end of the year it is not an automatic rejection. There are many factors coming into play, not only the ones mentioned above, but the human element of after the first of the year everyone reengaging to move forward.
  5. Fiscal year and budgets come into play so your start date could very well be after the new year, this could also work to your advantage in negotiating salary and benefits.

Leverage the opportunities at hand to not only spread merriment, but also spread the word you are ready and available for that next great opportunity! Here are four tips for conducting an active holiday search:

  1. This is the time for good cheer and many attendees at holiday events will welcome the opportunity to help you with your search or spread the word.
  2. There are more networking opportunities that come along with holidays – more events and more attendees. Think beyond company events to research and include Chambers of Commerce or professional associations, as well.
  3. Partner changing your strategy (attending more events) with changing your approach. Think of this push as growing your network instead of finding a job and it will increase your ability to enjoy the interactions much more. Added bonus – partner these two with a goal of helping those you meet.
  4. Use holidays as an excuse to reconnect with your network and gently remind them you are searching. Send holiday notes, cards or emails wishing them well and casually mention, in an upbeat tone, that you are continuing to search for your next great opportunity and know it will be coming soon. If your contacts have helped you in the past, be sure to thank them.

But what if you are burnt? What if you have been networking, getting the word out and been active in your searching to no avail? You cannot muster the enthusiasm or energy to go caroling for opportunities. You may not be in the mindset for active searching; however, holidays are still a good time to passively search.

What I call passive search is setting a strategy. If all your holiday deeds are done, you may have more time on your hands. Take advantage of this by reevaluating and refocusing your job search strategy. It requires quiet time, index cards, pen and eggnog (or your choice of beverage). Here are five action items to help refocus and evaluate:

  1. Review your resume. Do not look at it as yours, evaluate it as a hiring manager. Does it speak to the position you seek and the value you bring in a clear way? Grab a glass of eggnog and a pen and start slashing and dashing.
  2. Review your LinkedIn profile. This is a different conversation than your resume. For more about the differences – check out this article: I speak 7 Languages – None are Right for Writing a LinkedIn Profile Are you speaking to your target audience? Is your value, passion and personality coming through? Print it out, grab another glass of eggnog, pen and slash and dash.
  3. What do you offer? Here is a great brainstorming exercise that always works for me in removing blocks and guiding me to clarification. Grab a stack of index cards (or if you prefer notebook/electronic document – one card would equal one line), glass of eggnog and a pen.Only write one thought per index card. Start with the obvious: Degree, years of experience, specific skills – but just one per card. Write as many as you can think of, do not limit yourself and there are no bad ideas. After you have written as many as you can, take each one and now expand on it. Write as much as you can and if another thought comes up – write a new card.
  1. What are you looking for? You can either do the same process with index cards as above. Begin with a single thought per card or line. The type of company, size, industry. Then start getting into the nitty gritty: what do you want to do, how, what about the environment. One thought per card. Then create another stack of cards – what do you not want. Keep going after you think you are done, get it down to the bone. Anything that pops in your head write it down. Things like parking, is there a gym nearby, whatever the smallest details you can think. Once you have completed each list take a break. Then come back and review. You might be surprised at some of the things that come out of this.
  1. What about your network, who can help you and how? Grab more index cards and refill that eggnog and start writing one name per card. Think of people in your network – not just work but personal networks. People at the gym, clubs, organizations, kids sports groups – anyone you can think of write them down. Then on the back of each card, write down how they can help you.Next, review all the ‘hows’ and create an action plan. Reach out to Joey at the gym and ask him about xyz. Connect with Joan on LinkedIn and request an introduction to Jerry.

Take advantage of the opportunities that the holidays offer for both a passive and active job search and with a little effort, action and persistence you might just be ringing in a new job after the new year!

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

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

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

The Solution to Any Problem Begins With One Question

Questions

Have you ever have a problem or a situation that is beyond frustrating and try as you might, you cannot get out of the funk of it? Then someone all happy comes along and tells you to relax, everything will work out ok, be positive or some other sentiment that makes you want to throat punch them?

Me too.

And I have been that happy person you want to throat punch, too, but not in a traditional sense.

I am not going to tell someone struggling with a very painful and difficult situation to ‘just be happy, it will all work out’. Blah. Yet I do want to help them get out of that mindset and be able to move forward in a positive way.

The way I help work it out is the way I learned that works best for me. I learned it the hard way and wish I would have learned it years ago.

I ask one question: “Where is the good?”

That whole personal experience thing –tragic family and career events – I can look back now and for every single one, there was a positive. They all lead me in a different or better path. I could not see it at the time because I was too focused on the negative – losing a job, being cheated on, blah, blah, blah.

It is hard asking yourself – and even harder answering – what is the good in this terrible situation. But it can be a game changer. It changes your perspective, it changes your attitude and it can change the next course.

This really works best if you have someone you trust who will help you, i.e. get in your face and not let you quit.

At first you are going to answer ‘there is nothing good about this, I just lost my job!’ or whatever the situation is, ‘how can it possibly be good?’

When you are so entrenched on the negative and want to throat punch your accountability partner, this is where they need to step it up. They need to ask you how much did you love that job? They know you, you probably hated it but are now romancing it up because it is no longer there.

Stop that. And that is what your accountability partner needs to do for you, help you stop that. Whether calling you out on it bluntly or asking sarcastic questions to make you laugh – whatever it is, they need to help you get past that initial chicken little immersion attitude. If you are not comfortable doing this with someone else, do it in the bathroom mirror and give yourself hell.

If that thought pops in your head, ‘I really hated that job’ then you might realize the good could be that you are finally free of that life-sucking monstrosity of a company.

Maybe losing your job allows you to find something you really want. Something closer to home. Something more you like to do. Something that allows you to go back to school to finish or get a degree in what you really love. Something that gives you more time with your family. Something that pays the bills and isn’t too taxing so you can figure out what you want to do. Something in another state because now you are free to go anywhere you want.

You won’t know what the good is until you ask the question and force yourself to keep giving answers beyond the “there is no good”.

Many times we cannot see the good until sometime later and it has all played out. This is not an exercise in setting a concrete path as to what is next. This is an exercise to allow your mind to be open to the possibility that something good or better will come from this. When you shift that mindset from complete negative to optimistic potentially positive, good things will be revealed to you. Because now you can see them – they have always been there, but asking what is good helps take your blinders off.

Think about something going on right now, it does not have to be a life-changing negative thing, just a problem or challenge that you are having right now. What’s the good in it? Start jotting down some ideas and by the end of the day you might just have a whole new perspective and a solution!

 

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

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

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

 

The Best Way To Write Your Resume – Stop Trying to Write A Resume

cheshire-cat-doesnt-do-resumes

Now how does that title make sense? Not writing your resume is the best way to write your resume?

It does seems like Cheshire Cat logic – but don’t disappear on this idea just yet. Read on and hopefully the concept will be more clear than the cat in all his glory up in the tree.

(Oh that was terrible, I apologize, I seem to have some weird fixation on Alice in Wonderland theme going on. It probably will not get any better…)

You want to write a resume document, but not write the document as a resume.

More Cheshire Cat logic?

It is the approach, Alice – all in how you think about this document, and its purpose,  that will make the difference between painstaking or productive. It will also have a significant impact on the content and if it will garner the attention that you really want.

But first, why should you not perceive or approach writing this document as a resume:

  1. Most everyone hates writing resumes (except professional resume writers, we are a unique sort) so you are already in a bad mood about it. When has anything turned out well when you start off all sour about it?
  2. Hardly anyone freely and easily speaks ‘resume’ (again, except us professional resume writers – we are the hit of the party with this one) so it is not a comfortable writing style.
  3. Most resumes templates are geared toward duty based documents. If you have not done this in a while or just doing research to help freshen it up, odds are you are going to come across a template or two.
  4. You might ask friends to take a look at their resume, just keep in mind most do-it-yourself resumes are duty based. This means that the bullet points under each position neatly and vaguely tell the reader what the person was hired to do. Meaningless. Just because you were hired for these things does not mean you did them or did them very well.
  5. It might be a natural inclination to assume.  No need to tell the reader what something means, they should be ale to figure it out, right? Wrong. They know nothing more than what you tell them. They are not going to read further than what is presented to them. That is not their job. It is your job to tell them what they need to know in a clear and meaningful way.

The key to writing a resume without thinking about it as a resume is to think of it as a conversation.A conversation to tell your story, the way you want the reader to understand it.

Cheshire Cat again?

Vary rarely will a career have a straight and narrow path up, up, up. For most of us, it is a windy, twisty road full of the unexpected. To anyone else, it does not make sense why you went to this company or that, how this position came about and promoted into that one.

This is your story, you may be the only one who truly gets it.

So your job is to bridge the gap between all the twists and turns with the reason why the reader would want to talk to you: your value.

The common thread between all the positions you are listing is the value you provide by performing duties leveraging your strengths, skills and expertise.

So when writing your resume, sit down at that computer or pad of paper and have a conversation. Think about writing out your side of a conversation with the Cheshire Cat looming above asking:

  1. How did you get there?
  2. What were you originally hired to do?
  3. How did the job every change after you started?
  4. What did you like most about the job?
  5. What did you learn while you were there?
  6. Any other questions that get your mind thinking about the value you provided

Respond in full, write it all out as though you were having a conversation because that is where you will find the hidden nuggets of value to transform into a value-based document.

The fun part is going back and slashing and dashing to make sure each bullet point is now demonstrating value. Don’t forget the key words and let your old friend Mr. Thesaurus help you out to start making it sound more resume-ish.

Once you start getting the knack of storytelling for value purpose, you will soon have a resume that even the Red Queen would read!

(Oh yes, I had to finish it up in the Alice in Wonderland theme, it could have been worse – I am a huge X-Men fan, just think what I could have done with Wolverine references!)

 ✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰

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

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

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