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

dont have to cant make me

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


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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What was the dumbest/bully-ish/fear factor experience you had in your job search?


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

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

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

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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.


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.

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Stop Ignoring The Most Important Person To Give You Job Search Advice

confidenceWith the ability to have instant access to a wealth of information on any topic known to man, it would seem to be a pretty easy task to become fairly well educated on a desired topic. The flip side to this is information overload which leads to analysis-paralysis.

If you are in the process of making a change in your career – moving up or changing industries – it is natural to do a little research to be prepared. So you begin a search on the internet. You find information on job search strategies, resumes, networking, LinkedIn, interviewing – just to name a few topics that you are likely to run across.

So you pick on and start doing some real research on one topic to get started and that is when the fun starts.

One site tells you that you should always have a one page resume, another says that two pages is preferred or most common. One expert tells you that you should never have a summary on the top of your resume, another says it is an absolute must, and the list goes on and on and on and on….

What you start to quickly realize is there is a lot of conflicting information out there, with an emphasis on a lot of information out there. By the time you amass all the tips, tools, tricks, insight and recommendations your head is about ready to explode. You feel worse than you did when you began the process.

Perhaps you feel like you thought you knew a thing or two but now you feel you really do not know a darn thing about this whole process after all. A sense of doom and gloom starts to creep in.

Should you redefine your brand, resume, LinkedIn, networking, interviewing and everything else that you do every single time you leave the house or apply for a position? Everyone seems sincere and authoritative, even if conflicting, so who do you listen to?

Let’s not forget the well-meaning intentions of family and friends. Some turn into instant experts on job searching and all the elements as soon as they find out you are in that mode. They tell you with extreme confidence exactly what you should do. Sometimes, if you are really lucky, they badger you asking if you have followed their advice to the letter and if not why not and it can turn into berating rather than supporting.

Professionals, websites, articles, videos, seminars, books, friends, family, former bosses, co-workers, networking groups – who do you listen to? You have so many options of who to listen to but odds are you are not listening to the person who has the most to contribute, your most valuable expert.

What if I told you there is one person who knows you better than anyone else and who can guide you? They can weed through the landfill of information and pick out the gems that benefit you the most because it is in line with who you are and what you want.

Who is this person??

It is you.

That’s right; you need to listen to yourself. Your gut, intuition, little voice in your head – whatever you call it you need to learn to listen to it.

No, you do not know the world of job searching, but you know you. And selling yourself in a way that resonates with you is the foundation and vital to your job search success.

You can gather the best advice in the world but if it does not work for you than it is worthless. Listening to yourself allows you to pick and choose among the strategies and suggestions and mold them into your comfort level.

For example, if you read a very persuasive article advocating for colors, graphics, charts and statistics on your resume but your stomach tightens just thinking about it. That would be a signal not to do that. If you choose to ignore this advice from yourself and do make those changes you will probably end up not liking your resume.

This in turn means you will be less likely to utilize it and send it out. That means less visibility and not creating opportunities for you to be considered. This could prolong your job search, deepen your frustration and make you feel worse than before.

If your gut says absolutely no but you think there might be some value in the advice, see if you can find a compromise. Say, “Self, I know I cannot do the fancy-smancy resume, but is there something here we can use? I really want to upgrade the look of my resume.”

Self may very well respond with, “How about using a different font, work with the white space, change your letterhead and make smaller visually impactful changes?”

Now you create a look that you like, that you are proud of and one that you happily send it out. You therefore increase your chances for visibility, communication and action.

The bottom line is this: it is your career, your life, your resume, your LinkedIn profile, your networking, your brand – it should represent you! Do research, listen and then have that conversation with yourself. Find a compromise in order to build a personal brand, make connections, expand your network and capitalize on opportunities.


I hope you enjoyed this article and it provided value for you. If so, please click on the follow button so I may continue to share valuable content with you or the share buttons to share with your network.

I help people identify and set a path to achieve their career goals by using the V Formula:

Your Value + Your Voice = Visibility

Visibility is the leverage to move in, move up or move on in your career; expand your book of business or territory, grow your company and strengthen your team.


Lisa K. McDonald, Owner and Principal of Career Polish, Inc. is a favorite speaker and seminar facilitator at colleges, professional organizations and companies around the US speaking to leadership, sales and athletic teams; transitioning/downsized employees and networking groups about personal branding, networking, creating executive presence and achieving career movement success. To find out more, visit Career Polish, Inc.

Do You Look At or Listen To Advice?

monkey no seeYesterday I was on the phone with a business partner discussing an opportunity in another state while my son was visiting.

I wasn’t sure what he was doing during the call other than keeping the dogs occupied, which I appreciated; but it turns out he was listening intently.

I found this out after the call when he sat down across from me and said, “Do you mind if I give you a little advice?”

Alrighty then.

My 20 year old son is actively searching for a job and looking forward to college in the fall. I’m a coach of all things pre-employment. See the irony here?

But there is one thing I know about my son – he is extremely intelligent and insightful, so I welcomed his feedback.

It was good.

Completely relevant and sound.

Oftentimes we don’t listen to what we are told because we are too busy looking at the person that is giving it and dismissing it before we have even given it a chance. That whole judge a book by its cover thing.

I know my sons gifts and I also know that he is my biggest supporter and protector so anything he would have to say would only be in my best interest. It allowed me to listen with an open mind and have a conversation with him.

When someone offers advice before you judge if they are worthy think first about their motives.

Is it being offered to help, for your best interest and in a positive way? Then listen. No matter who it comes from. It is a gift and you should take heed.

Everyone has something to contribute but often we do not allow others to do so because we think they can’t possibly understand. Well, if that were the case wouldn’t you have it all figured out already and not draw the attention of someone who wants to help? Think about that for a minute.

When someone gives advice and it is actually received you give a gift back to them – appreciation and validation. There is no better feeling than appreciation so not only are they helping you but you are helping them.

Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Unless By Birth, Bonding or Engagement You Are Not Obligated To Give Your Opinion

There are three groups of people that I am obligated to give my opinion to:

  1. My Best Friend
  2. My Family
  3. My Clients

My best friend and I have a rule: the whole truth and nothing but the truth and give it straight and quick.  We get each other’s unabridged full opinion; but that also comes with the unquestionable, unwavering full support.


My family, well, they give me their opinions they get to hear mine.  We are a pretty open, sarcastic bunch and know that all things said are done so with love and support.  We are the type that laugh at the one who walks into the closed sliding glass door – then ask if they are okay.


My clients depend on me for my professional opinion, advice and guidance.  They pay me for this; it is a service to help them get from where they are to where they want to be.  I take every one of my clients on with the understanding that open communication, pushback and skin in the game are required.  They are a part of the process and in return they get the full extent of my attention, expertise and assistance.


Even with the established relationships of love, respect or engagement it does not mean that anyone in the above three groups will head my advice or listen to my opinions.  They also know that the ultimate decision lies with them and is their responsibility.


Given that I try like heck to keep my mouth shut with everyone else.  Networking friends, casual acquaintances, boyfriends, neighbors, or referral partners – just keep it to myself.  I’m not their mother, wife or boss and therefore it is not my job to tell them my personal thoughts on their business.  I am not obligated to give my opinion.  It can cause more damage than it is worth.


I have a dear friend who is a lovely and giving person, genuine, intelligent and an all around great guy.  From our conversations I have gathered that he is in a relationship in which he isn’t happy but he’s old school and a “I gave my word so even if I feel like I’m being drug over hot coals I’ve gotta stick this out” kinda guy.  I’ve listened and made appropriate “I’m listening” noises but have refrained from giving my thoughts on the matter.  When asked I simply say, “you have to do what you feel is best.”  Yes, as non-committal as I can be.  I do this on purpose.


First of all, his personal life is not my personal business.  And I am not a trained therapist.  And it is not my job to scold anyone for their personal decisions.  Except my son, him I can scold.  It doesn’t matter, he doesn’t listen anyway, but he is the only one I can scold.


Second, even though he may share some details I don’t know everything.  Therefore my opinion is based upon less than all the facts.


Lastly, if I were to suggest in any way, shape or form that perhaps the relationship isn’t right for him and he chose to end it and then it blew up in his face I don’t want to be blamed.  I care about my friend but I’m not willing to risk a friendship by giving advice.


Keep this in mind when you have a friend asking you about career advice because their job is their relationship.  You may be well meaning in trying to give them advice, maybe to move on, but if it doesn’t work out you may be blamed.


It is also not your place to judge.  Not all relationships make sense to us.  We can see a couple and think, “How on earth are they together?!” but they are the happiest couple you know.  It is not yours to understand or explain.  Nor is it your place to make the determination if someone is in a wrong job or relationship.


I worked for a manager that, according to pretty much everyone else, was a total and complete ass – demanding, cold, unrelenting and uncommunicative.  I must have been the odd man out because we formed a very cohesive working relationship.  When others would ask me how I just told them we figured out what worked for the other and we have the same goal in mind.  It just worked.  Period.


Sometimes the best advice you can give someone looking for advice is to “do what is best for you.”  Non-committal and non judgmental.  I have often found that many times those looking for advice are actually looking for a reason without taking responsibility.


If they want to leave a job or relationship but don’t have the stones to do it for themselves they will solicit advice from others until they get the “green light” to leave.  That way if it blows up in their face they can go back and blame the advice-giver.  Saying things like, “I didn’t want to leave but you said I should.”


It is a dangerous game and one you do not want to be a part of – trust me!


If they continue to push for you to give a stance one way or another that is the time that you can gently introduce the idea of a professional.  If it is a personal relationship maybe a therapist can help them sort out some issues they are struggling with; if it is a professional relationship perhaps a coach can help them see the bigger picture.


This is the time to direct them to someone that they can pay to get professional assistance.  It doesn’t mean they will listen to it, but it could save your friendship.


Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Career Coach-Strategist

Certified Professional Resume Writer

Career Polish, Inc.


Some Great Advice from Dad

Long, long ago when I was preparing to go to college my dad gave me a little piece of advice:


“If you are ever unsure of what to do, just imagine me standing next to you.”


I will admit at 17 I really did not pay that much attention to my dad’s advice, okay maybe through some of my twenties too, but that is not the point.


This was sage and powerful stuff.  Thank goodness I remembered it.  It is something that I also passed down to my son.  Apparently I also passed down the gene of not listening to parents’ advice as a teenager too, but that is another story.


My dad raised me with no limitations from being a girl; however he always expected me to be a lady.  There have been many times that I would stop and take a breath and think of my father next to me and that helped determine my next actions.


When I became a parent I put my kids in that same category because I represent them as well.  I am very well aware of this – I represent all generations and extensions of my family as well as myself.


Maybe I am old-fashion that way.  It is how I was raised and how I raised my kids.  I would tell them, “When you walk out of this house you also represent me and your father so do not make me regret not locking you in the garage.”  Oh yes, I am that mom.  But a little humor helps the advice go down a bit easier.


Sometimes in the workplace I fight the urge to give this advice to people.  If you brought your parent or child to work, is this what you would want them to see?  Would you behave the same way?  Would you treat that customer differently if the were with their grandparent or child?


We are all connected and represent more than just ourselves.


This goes with mistakes, too.  Once I made a huge error when working in the financial industry.  Huge.  I realized it and gathered the troops to help me correct it and when the Managing Director came back in the office I told him I royally screwed up but this is how I was fixing it.


That night I told my son about it, he was around 7.


A few days later the manager and I were talking about it and I mentioned something my son had said.  He was surprised and said, “You told your son?”  Yes, I wanted him to know that moms make mistakes, too; and the most important part is how you correct them.


Choosing our actions in front of our children, co-workers, reports and managers is how we demonstrate who we are; what we stand for and how we handle situations.  It is easy to do when they are standing right there; but the real trick is keeping it up when they are not.




Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Career Coach-Strategist

Certified Professional Resume Writer

Career Polish, Inc.