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.

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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 ★

 

 

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You Are Not An Old Dog Stuck In A Career – You Can Learn New Tricks

old dog learning new tricks

I was at a party last weekend and had a wonderful conversation about dogs with a fellow guest.  Us dog people can sniff each other out in a crowd.  I mentioned that I had hired a trainer to train me on how to train my dogs and he was quite interested as he had a pup or two that could use some guidance.

Near the end of the conversation a light bulb went off and he remarked that my dogs were not young.  No, they are not.  My boys are both 7 and the little princess is over 10.  And yet, they took to the training.

I do not know where they phrase, “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” came from.  After my training experience, I have concluded it was coined by a person who was not trained to train their dog and therefore their dog did not respond.

Too often during our career journey this phrase pops into our heads when we feel stuck.  Unable to move forward or even laterally into a new position or company that would better benefit us.  Perhaps we use it as a consolation phrase to make us feel better.  It is an excuse.

We can learn new technology, skills, systems or even ways of thinking at any age – it is our will to do so that is the determining factor, not our age or length of time in a position.

I am continually motivated by clients that have completed advanced training, education or even a complete jump into a new career after years being stuck in a box.  That is courage and it is impressive.  The one common denominator with all of these amazing people is this: they had a desire that they turned into action.

They wanted more, better or different.  They realized it was not going to materialize out of thin air where they are so they went after it and did it.  Sometimes it is to advance their careers, other times it was to expand their own capabilities without a direct correlation to their career.

Not all knowledge is going to serve as a means to propel your career – if you want it, go for it anyway.  Setting and achieving that goal gives you a sense of accomplishment and pride that is irreplaceable.

To learn new tricks does not always mean formalized certification or education.  Sometimes the best tricks you can learn are free.  You have a wealth of knowledge and experience all around you in your network.  Look around at your circle of influence, alliances and friends.  Explore your connections on LinkedIn.  Then take the most important step – ask.

One of the best ways to increase your knowledge is to simply ask.  I have a wonderful alliance of women that I see frequently and we combine exercise with expansion.  If any of us have a question, problem or contemplating a new idea – we ask the others.  We discuss our businesses, marketing, opportunities, experiences, thoughts, failures and stories.  This is a mobile MBA program in business!

In the world of knowledge, we are all very young pups with a lot to learn.  Let’s start by asking.

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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. ★

 

Military & Law Enforcement – Why People Do Not Get You Or Your Resume

military law enforcement

The strength of an organization lies in building a sense of shared vision, communication and purpose.  This is a fundamental principle for organizations of any size, industry or purpose.  Some organizations are better at doing this than others; and some set the bar.

The military and law enforcement are two areas that set the bar.  They have their own language and culture.  I know this on a professional and personal level.  My boyfriend has nearly 30 years in the military.  There are times during a conversation that I look at him and say, “Hey, Chief, can you translate that for me?”

I am getting better; the thought process in subtracting 12 when given a time is shortening and I no longer think of pots and pans when “cover” is mentioned.

My communication and coaching style is direct and relatable so I will explain the way I do to my clients: you scare the heck out of people.

Not for what you did or how you did it – it is how you talk. You have to admit, it is a weird language. Their fear is admitting they have no idea what you are talking about.

It is great to be face to face with someone and gently tell them that you have no idea what they are saying when they lapse into “military/law enforcement” speak; however, you do not have that luxury with your resume.

I have worked with all levels of military and law enforcement and it is the common denominator in being stalled in moving forward with a transition: miscommunication.

You are not saying anything wrong, you are just speaking in a foreign language.

When I interview my clients to create their branding, we talk about their background.  However, I ask them to explain it to me as though I know nothing about the military or law enforcement.  What is a battalion? How many people does that include? What is administrative control? I ask them to break it down as though it was a company and what would be the equivalent in that context.

That is the key to communication – explaining your value in a way that your audience understands. 

If I cannot relate to you then I cannot comprehend your value or importance in solving my challenges or problems.

It is your job to tell your story in their language.  Learn the language of the organization or industry you are targeting. Find the similarities.

For example, maneuver may translate to initiative or project or the similarity may be project management.  How does a project manager oversee a project?  What is their responsibilities, accountabilities and authorities?  How does that parallel with what you did?

Training and leadership are two important elements that almost every client possesses from their military / law enforcement experience.  What is the importance of the training – think of your audience – how did you perform or receive training, how did it improve your abilities and contributions?

Throughout your career you may have been promoted into positions that do not translate into the business world.  I do not see a lot of ‘lieutenant’ or ‘major’ in corporate job titles.  Tell us the equivalent of those positions and – just as important – why you were promoted.

Start from the most basic level – explain what you did as you were explaining it to a six year old.  Extreme?  Perhaps, but it gives you a baseline to force yourself to use language that is very simple and clear.  From there you can begin to develop your story and value based on common themes, concepts, language and value.

I have found military and law enforcement are comfortable with steps, given that, here are some steps to help transition your resume from overlooked to attention getting:

  • Identify – Determine the civilian position for which your military or law enforcement background translates
  • Research – Rind job postings and sample resumes of this / these position(s)
  • Compartmentalize – Break down the position into categories of skills, experience, training, education etc.
  • Compare – Find the similarities between the breakdown and your background
  • Translate – Identify key words and phrases and understand what they are communicating, substitute these within your narrative
  • Rewrite – Restructure your narrative into value driven, impactful statements that speak to your audience’s needs, requirements and expectations.
  • Ask – If you are not sure how something would translate, ask for help. Reach out to someone in your network that is in that position and have a conversation.  Networks are there to help you.

Members of our military and law enforcement have a tremendous amount of value, so much more than most people realize.  Stop hiding it from us.  Tell us in a way that we can understand and doors will begin to open for you to transition successfully.

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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.

Resumes: One Page or Two – and Why They Fail Based on Length Alone

resume snapshot

Although job searching stinks, you know what is worse – writing your own resume.

It starts innocently enough by going online to get updated on the latest do’s and don’t’s; but then it becomes an avalanche of contradictory information.

For everything every piece of advice that you read, you find at least one source telling you what you just read is wrong and you should do something completely different.

It can be so overwhelming that after reading all the expert opinions and suggestions you are ready to suck it up and get the worst job possible – or stay in a horrible situation – in order to avoid having to write your resume.

Of all the questions I get asked as a Professional Resume Writer, there is one that outweighs them all: one page or two?

There seems to be staunch camps out there whether your resume should be one page or two pages. Each is very firm in their opinions and quite adamant about supporting their cause.

After years of writing, researching and talking to the people that it matters to the most – hiring managers and human resource professionals, I have an answer for those who struggle with this question, with a wrinkle:

It doesn’t matter.

Let me take that back, it does matter, but only to the person reading your resume – so you have a 50/50 shot of being right.

Here’s the wrinkle: there are three things that are more important than length of resume to those that matter:

1. What are you applying for?

2. How do you qualify?

3. Can I find the information easily?

 

If you hit those three questions, the length of the resume will not matter. If it is two pages and you have a one page preference reader, they will continue to read because you are providing the information most important to them.

If you have a two page preference reader, they will be satisfied with one page as long as you meet these criteria.

On the other hand if you need a two page and force it onto one because that is “what everyone had told you” you are short-changing yourself and eliminating a fair amount of value from your resume.

Just as if you have enough for a solid one page and try to draw it out into a two page you run the risk of putting too much fluff and distraction into your resume thereby diluting your quality and value.

Let’s take a look at writing your resume from the perspective of these three questions, rather than length, for a more impactful resume.

It is simple enough to answer ‘what are you looking for’ if it is a lateral move for which you have experience and the title is clearly given. You can incorporate the title as either a header or in your opening statement. You can then use key words as ‘Areas of Proficiencies’ and continue to use them in your demonstrative bullet points throughout your resume.

This sounds easy enough; however, what if it is not so cut and dried?

For example, what if you do not always have the luxury of knowing the title?

Some opportunities are not nicely laid out to tell you the exact title. You may be submitting a resume to someone because they asked if you have one they could “take a look at”.

Then what?

This is when a value-based, demonstrative resume is critical.

Having a selling document that emphasizes not only your skills, but how you use them and the value they provide to your audience allows the reader to see demonstrated value.

Simply listing your job duties does not tell the reader what you did, it tells them what you were hired to do; which does not mean you did it or did it well.

Prove it to them. What did you do, how did you do it, whom did you work with, how did you work with them and how did it provide value and to whom? You may not answer all these questions in every bullet point; however, getting the gist of this allows you to demonstrate your value.

They are not going to believe you just because you said so, you have to prove it. Give these guys a break, huh? They read 300+ resumes for one position opening and to be fair, there is a lot of fluffing going on in resumes. They have to cut through the fluff in a very short period of time. Demonstrating cuts through fluff, it proves your value and you are elevated in the stack.

If the desired job title is the next step in your career progression and you do not have a history supporting using this title on your resume, not only do you want to leverage value-based, demonstrative writing; but you also want to write towards the title.

You may read through the desired qualifications and realize you have not done some of these tasks before, do not freak out. Take a moment to peel back the onion a bit. What skills does it take to perform those tasks? Have you done them? Then write demonstrative statements emphasizing those skills.

When I was recruiting I did not always look for people with an exact career match. The fact of the matter is I did not want to retrain them. One of the worst things I heard was, “That’s not how we did it at XYZ”.  I looked for the skills required to perform the tasks, I could teach widgets, systems and processes.

As a very basic example to grasp the concept, let’s say the peeling back the layers of what is required for the next step and you deduce that it requires leadership, organization and good communication skills. You have held supportive roles in the past, not full leadership roles, so how do you write toward the position?

Demonstrate your skills, abilities and value from the perspective of leadership, organization and good communication skills. Describing how you do what you do using these words and concepts.

“Demonstrated leadership in taking ownership of X part of Y project” – leadership.
“Communicated clearly with all stakeholders ensuring engagement and alignment with project expectations.” – communication
“Meticulously organized timelines for group maintaining continual communication to meet demanding deadlines.” – organization and communication

This allows the reader to see this as a natural progression for you and a good fit for the organization.

It also answers how you are qualified for the position.

It also is easy to read and understand.

This is the last important factor: is it easy to find. This applies not only to visual but verbiage.

The layout is important, there will be a human being reading this. Fonts that are too small hurt the eyes and looks like you are trying too hard to squeeze everything on one page. Distracting colors, graphs and changes in fonts can be, well, distracting and take away from your value.

For the visual, make it easy for a real person to read. Leverage white space, bold, italics, spacing, borders and the like to add interest, not to overwhelm. If you need examples of visual styles, go to Google, type in “Resume Sample” and click on “Images”.

Do not read all those resumes for goodness sakes! Just glance over them until you eye is drawn to one style. Each of those can be reproduced in Word. Find what you like and emulate it for your resume.

As far as verbiage, use words and phrases that aligns you to the position and/or industry. If you are experienced in a field, then it would be a natural assumption that you understand the acronyms and how to use them. Spell them out first for ATS systems and others doing a pre-screening. Using key words and phrases correctly demonstrates knowledge, you are talking the talk. Demonstration is walking the walk.

Your bullet points get more attention and understanding when then are true bullet points, not paragraphs. If you have more than two sentences in a bullet point, you have more than one value within that statement and should be broken up.

Your resume is your canvas to paint your picture the way you want them to understand it. Use words as your paint to create the image you want. Some paintings are better with less colors, some could use a bit of color here and there.

When you write your resume, focus on the content first. If you have enough to demonstrate value for two pages, then use two pages – as long as you answer their most important questions.

If you have what they are looking for, they will get over the one page or two issue and focus more on when they can have you come in to talk about the position.

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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 and their leadership and teams to identify, strengthen and effectively communicate their brand, engagement, commitment and most importantly – their value – by learning and leveraging LinkedIn, 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 Career Polish how we can help you.

You Lost Your Job – Congratulations!

You Lost Your Job – Congratulations!

Be forewarned – this article contains feel good, ooey gooey type messages and perspectives. If you prefer to wallow in anger, frustration, misery or blame – do us both a favor and stop reading now!

In one week I spoke to two different people in two different situations.  The first was a woman who proudly announced that after 17 years at her job she was quitting.  I immediately told her “Congratulations!”

The other, the next day, was a young man who told me after six years, his position is being downsized.  I responded with, “Congratulations!”

These were not sarcastic comments; they were heart-felt, sincere congratulations.

I have been doing career coaching for some time now and the one thing I have learned is this: every opportunity is a – wait for it – blessing in disguise.  The first ooey gooey!

I know you are probably not bought in yet, so let me offer the most powerful example or “insight” that I can:

We stink at planning our own life.

There may be factors that you are really good at: what college to attend, getting the right internship, getting the right car, having the right house in the right location – yes, sometimes we can plan things out wonderfully and they even go according to plan.

But life does not work exactly according to plan and we stink at planning our lives. If we were so good at it, we would not lose jobs, lovers, friends or opportunities.  One of my favorite sayings is “Man plans, God laughs.”

Life laughs. and laughs….and laughs…and laughs.

If we got everything we asked for – everything we plan, we would be miserable.

Remember that person you were madly in love with in your 20’s and you wanted to spend the rest of your life with them?  You really dodged a bullet there looking back 20 years later and realizing they were a self-absorbed pig with no heart.  Or that company that you were dying to work for that turned out to be a soul-sucking institution of self-loathing?

That pretty much negated the ooey-gooey, but the fact is what we want in the immediate is not always what is best for us in the long term.

Sometimes what we think we want is not really what we want, it is just what we have always thought.

Here is a good example and to add a little more ooey-gooey back in. If you were to ask my beau a year and a half ago about his ideal girlfriend he would have told you at least 5’8”, brunette, health nut, someone really into running with a pretty conservative existence, a bit shy or quiet – not someone to really rock the boat or be out there.

I am 5’, blond, eat what I want, when I want it, only run if someone is chasing me and am anything but shy, quiet or contained.  There is absolutely nothing about me that met with his ideal; what he is to military guy I am to modern hippie, and yet we are blissfully happy – sometimes sickening so.  We have formed a partnership based on respect and communication.

What we think we want is based on what we know.  What we know is based on our past; it is solid.  What we are is in the present and it is semi-solid.  What awaits us is in the future and it is fluid.  How can we use our past to determine what is best for our future when it changes based on the present?

Just call me Buddha.

But seriously, what were your life goals at 22?  Have they changed?  Have you changed? I wanted to be a lawyer with five kids.  Well, that certainly changed.

I am a firm believer in this thing called life is not a test, a series of unfortunate events that lead to glimpses of happiness.  It is an experience.  It is a game that offers wins every day if we open our eyes.  It is fun and interactive, like all good games should be. When we get stale in our routine, we lessen our impact and our personal joy.

That is when it is life’s turn to play.  I would say it throws you a curve ball, but if you have good reflexes you are either going to learn to hit a curve or get out of the way.  No, life plays dodge ball.  You get one of those red rubber balls right upside the head!

Booom!  Wake up

You’re out of that game, time to start another.  But this time, you have to approach it differently so you don’t get beaned in the noggin.

Then it is your turn to play, you get to throw the balls back.  You get to identify your targets and pick them off!

This is your opportunity!

I ask every single client, what do you want to do next – don’t tell me a job or title, what do you want to be doing.  Many times they cannot answer that.

I get a lot of, “well, I’ve always done this…”  Nope.  What. Do. You. Want. To. Do.

We got stuck in adult.  Adults are supposed to have all the answers, all the time, in every situation without hesitation.  It is exhausting to adult.

Oh my, we were so entrenched that we have forgotten how to think about ourselves and what we want.  It is like someone flipping on a bright light after coming out of a cave.

There is a lot of blinking, stammering and shielding ourselves from the light.  It is finally revealed in an almost apologetic voice, “I don’t know.”

Good for you!

Seriously – good for you!  That means you are open to possibilities.  I want my clients to create a “no” list.  Here are the things I do not want in my next position.  Whatever it is that you really do not like doing.  I had one client that had been a manager for many years realize that he really did not like managing people.  Good to know.  When we first talked, all he talked about was he should go into managing teams because that is all he had ever done.

Now, get your “no” list and start exploring.  When you find something that gives your belly a little twinge, take out that no list and see if there is anything in there that matches up.  If not, then go for it!

That little twinge, is excitement.  It is joy.  It is time you find it again and that is the reason for the red ball upside your head.

It is yours to find and own.  The next job may not be all that and the bag of chips, but you know what, you went for it.  You tried; you expanded your playing field.

Losing your job is giving you the opportunity to expand, explore, create and for goodness sakes, live!  Look at that person in the mirror and get to know them again, what they like, what they don’t, what they have to offer and what brings them joy.

Stop forcing yourself into the misguided perception that you should have all the answers right now.  Why do we have it stuck in our heads that it is an absolute must that we should have all the answers, every minute of every day for every aspect from what’s for dinner to what is our next career move.  That’s right – we are doing adult.

Doing adult 24-7 is icky.

You may have to adult and take something that keeps that roof over your head and the bellies full, but do not give up on the twinge!

Here is the other thing about life – in the core of your life – it really is all about you.  If you are not happy, how can you provide happiness to someone else?  Yes, you have others depending on you and you need to make wise choices for what is best for your partner, children, family, employees – but what about you?

If you are a miserable person, how do you give them joy, inspiration, hope and confidence?

You have to take care of yourself before you can take care of anyone else. Part of taking care of yourself is asking yourself, “What do I want to do – if I could do or be anything, what would that look like or feel like?”

It may take a step or two to get there and in the process it may change; but do not think just because you have always done something that is what is meant to be, period, end of story.  Your story is not over or predetermined.

Life isn’t a test – you are not required to show up with all the answers.  It is a game that you learn to play and it is made up along the way.

I remember as a kid my friends would get together on the playground and there was seemingly nothing to play with – we made up games.  We would create combinations of baseball, red rover, freeze tag and whatever else we could imagine.  Just when we started to get the hang of that made up game, one of us would introduce a new rule.

Welcome to life friends, the playground got a lot bigger and the made up rules became a lot more fun – and rewarding, if you stop trying to adult every second of every day and listen to the kid inside of you wanting to find joy – and bean life back with one of those red rubber balls.

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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 and their leadership and teams to identify, strengthen and effectively communicate their brand, engagement, commitment and most importantly – their value – by learning and leveraging LinkedIn, 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 Career Polish and how we can help you.

Your Executive Resume is Boring & Being Ignored – Bring it Back to Life with 7 Changes

boring executive resume

One of the things I hear most often from executive leaders is: I am bored.

They love what they do creating and driving change; yet they are stagnated or suffocated.

At some point, their career went into autopilot. They stopped being able to do what they do best and love.

This is when the decision is made that it is time to find that next position that will give them juice again, a reason to get excited in the morning and make positive changes.

With resolve, they start sending out resumes and get radio silence.  But why, they have an incredible track record, it is all there in black and white!

Because they are presenting themselves as they are-  at this moment – not who they are as a leader:

Bored

Career objective – boring
Career history – boring
Format, bullet points, descriptions… – boring

Why would a company looking for a leader to make a positive impact want to talk to a boring, bored executive?

Would you?

Unless you want to be stuck in that monotony, we need to make changes – now.

Change 1 – Mindset

Your mindset is the single most important element in career transition. What you think is what you believe; what you believe is how you behave. If you can only see the dreariness that surrounds you, it becomes a part of you and what you broadcast.

Stop looking at the mud you are stuck in and view your entire career. What gets you jazzed, what did you enjoy most, what do you want to be doing again? Reconnect with your passion, talents and value. Find that spark again and light it up.

Change 2 – Direction

One key to a resume is to write to where you want to go, not where you are at the moment. Too often resumes are written from the perspective of where you are, not what you want to do or where you are going.

What does that next move look like? What do you want to be doing? How do you want to make an impact? Imagine that next role and own it. Now think about what it takes to be there. What is important to that role?

That is what you write to – take the fire and point it right there.

Review your career history and describe the value you contributed in a manner that aligns with these defined key criteria.

Change 3 – Visual

You are an executive leader. Why does your resume look like every other resume?

You are unique, you are accomplished, you have value and can add immediate impact – where is that?

An executive resume should subtly demand attention because it has the stuff to support the attention. This does not mean add a flurry of colors, tables, fonts and “prettiness”. It should be subtle yet strong. A consistent font style with larger size, bold, italics, shading and lines will add subtle distinction while creating an overall presence.

Shake it up a little.

It is fine to use a title; however, titles can be confined to the definition given by the reader rather than the true extent of your experience. If you want to align with the position by using a title, use it in a short statement that gives an impactful, immediate synopsis of who you are as a leader.

Change 4 – The Why

Are you answering their why – why do I want to read your resume? If you are using a standard objective statement you are not. You are boring them.

A typical objective statement is something to the effect of, “wanting to use my talents and skills with a track record of success looking for a rewarding opportunity blah, blah, blah.”

This is telling them what you want, not how you benefit them. What is most important to that next organization is what you can do for them, not what they can do for you.

If someone asked you to cut to the chase and tell them what you bring to the table – what would you tell them? Start with that, but take it a step further.

Demonstrate it. It is not enough to claim to be an executive leader, you have to prove you walk the walk and talk the talk. If you are aligned with specific industries, target markets, business situations – this is the place to tell them. What you do, how you do it and your success.

They will not believe you just because you say so, you have to prove it.

Change 5 – Support

After your opening executive summary, support the magnitude of your value by giving a list of proficiencies or expertise that aligns with an executive leadership role. This list should bring impact, not simply fill space, and should be tailored to each position.

Remember, this is about what is important to them and demonstrating symmetry with your expertise and experience. Think beyond common terms to ones that align with the position and bring impact, for example, Global Strategy rather than Strategy.

Change 6 – Impact

When describing your current and past roles, position them from a value perspective rather than a list of job duties. This will distinguish you from what you were hired to do to how you made an impact.

Present your qualifications demonstrating how and where you made an impact. The how is describing the strategy and execution for your successes, the where is in various arenas – financial, human resources, culture or business. Speak to the role when highlighting your accomplishments, value and impact.

Change 7 – Spotlight

I have found one thing to be true of all the amazing executives that I have worked with, no matter the industry or title – they all stink at talking about themselves. Great leaders bring out excellence, propel others and lead by example and with their teams. This means they are not egocentric, it is about their people.

That is great, except one thing – your resume is about you. Get comfortable putting yourself out there. This does not mean that you describe what you did in a way that suggests you were the be-all-end-all. This means you must describe it in a way that demonstrates how you made an impact.

You are a leader -you lead – describe how you lead.

Making these seven changes will transform your resume into a true reflection of who you are as a leader and what you can do for them.

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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 Career Polish and how we can help you.

What Hiring Managers & Recruiters Won’t Tell You: Stop Being a Whiner

no whine

I can look at a resume and tell you what job the person loved, which one they hated and if they are still ticked off about looking for a job. You can use all the keywords and phrases you want, but that anger or frustration still comes through.

It is not just what you say; it is how you say it. This is translated through the written word and verbal communication.

This is proven in our daily interactions frequently. Think of a time that you sent a written message to a friend or significant other and they responded in a way that was completely off the wall and contrary to your meaning.

Better yet, try gently telling your girlfriend or wife in a very even, soft monotone that you want to not go out to dinner because, “I think we need to watch what we eat.” That “we” will get you. I will bet dollars to donuts that if you meant that you want to eat healthier that is not how she is going to translate that sentence. Have fun with that.

Job searching is not fun. It can be humiliating, frustrating, aggravating, gut-wrenching and exhausting. You may still be smarting from having to look in the first place. Being placed in this situation, voluntarily or not, is much like a death or divorce and as such, you go through the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

A company downsized, they let you go unfairly or they finagled their way of managing you out – it is not fair and it really ticks you off. You have every right to be mad. I encourage you to get mad, go for it, let it all out. Do it once and do it big – alone in the privacy of your own home. Get it out of your system. Give yourself permission to be mad, then let it go.

It is important for your mental health to allow yourself to be angry but even more important to let it go. It is not healthy to hold on to that anger. It also sabotages your job search efforts. People can pick up on that and it makes them uncomfortable. No one wants to hire the angry person.

It is natural to want to explain, to rally others to your side. You want to feel vindicated, understood or be the good guy who was wronged garnering more and more support for your side as you go to make you feel better.

The problem with this is – no one cares in the business world. It was a business decision. Take the personal feelings out of it and remind yourself that it was business.

If it was a hideous boss that manipulated to get you out of the company, well, they are an a-hole and they will get theirs. Don’t sweat it, it will come. And really, you do not want to be the person to deliver the karma. When it does come, it will come from someone or something much bigger than you that will give them what they deserve.

I had this happen to me and for a long time I about bit my tongue off taking the high road. Karma finally did step in about a year later and by that time, I had let it go. Although, it did please me in a small, dark place deep inside me – I’ll be honest. But I was also glad that it was not me because I could have lost credibility by looking like a whiner or disgruntled employee screaming, “It’s not fair.”

How to Eliminate the Whine from Your Job Searching

 

1. Your Resume – Descriptions

Even if you absolutely hated a job, put on your big person shoes and take a different approach. There is a benefit to every job you had – otherwise someone would not have paid you to do what you did. Find the benefit in the job. How did you add value? How did you contribute? What did you learn?

Find the positives and write about it from that perspective – the positive. This will change your tone and allow you to make minor changes in your verbiage that will make a huge improvement in your communication.

One dead giveaway that you hated a job is lack of information. If you worked for a company for five years and have two bullet points – guess what…. Really dig to find out the value. Think about who you worked with, how did you work with them, what did you do, how did you do it and how did it add value to others?

Even if you worked at the most monotonous job there is, you may have found a way to make your life easier in performing your tasks. Guess what, those are improvements. Write about them from the improvement perspective.

2. Your Resume – Departures

Often people want to state that it was not their fault for the departure. Do not do it. The resume is not the place to talk about why you left. Save it for the interview. Then you can leverage the powerful tools of tone and inflection to convey the right message. Often applications ask why you left a position – give a short answer not a dissertation. Plant closing, company downsize, recruited for advanced position.

3. Craft Your Message

This is the hardest part. You need to find a way to deliver the message of being let go yet put it in a positive way. No, you cannot tell people that your boss was an a-hole, even if it is true.

Downsizing or closures are easier to deliver, a simple, “Unfortunately, the company downsized; however, this is a great opportunity that allows me to bring xyz to a new organization and really make an impact” can be all you need to say. No need to add “because they wanted to bring younger people in with less experience so they could pay them less and not pay me what I am worth and I hope they burn in hell” in between the two thoughts.

Quitting or getting let go is a little more bitter pill to swallow or deliver. Try as hard as you can to be positive and deliver it in a non-demeaning, professional manner. “There was a change in structure or direction and felt that brining someone on with a background in this direction would be an immediate value; however, this allows me to get back to xyz, which is my greatest strengths and passion.”

The critical element of your message is ending it in a way that focuses back on your, in a positive way, highlighting your strengths, skills and value.

Practice your message over and over and over again, in front of a mirror and whenever you are alone until it comes easily, naturally, professional and positive. Watch your facial expressions and body language when practicing in front of a mirror to identify and eliminate any tells.

Practice it infinitum and eventually your mind shift will be to see it as a positive.

4. Networking

It is very easy to get comfortable with people you are networking with and your connections leading to a comfort in going into the gory details of your departure or job search. Stop that train before it leaves the station.

Your network is a professional network. Sure, you may drum up some sympathy, but in doing so you will not create any allies in helping you find a new position. They will get the impression that you are not ready.

If your network helps you in your search, they are putting their name out there and no one wants to tag their name to the angry person.

After the networking event, grab a bottle of wine (the good kind) and get with your partner or best friend as an accountability person and then let it all out. Set a limit to the whining – half an hour or one glass, whatever works for you.  Make sure your accountability person cuts you off on the whining and you get back to the positive.  The positive is you networked and remained professional!

5. Don’t Get Sucked Into Gossip

Unfortunately, there are those that love a good little bit of gossip or bad news. They may sound innocent enough with, “Oh, I’m so sorry, what happened?”

Answer this with your prepared message. The identifying bait for this type of person would come next. It can come in the form of, “I’ve always heard bad things about that company/manager” or “Did they tell you why?” or even as blatant as, “oh my gosh, tell me all about it!”

Do not take that bait. If they try to bait you to say something negative, do not bite. Remain upbeat and positive with a short statement putting an end to their probing. Smile and tell them that you are very excited to take on the next great adventure or opportunity. If they still try to probe, leave them. Politely excuse yourself to the rest room, to go get more networking chicken or that you just saw someone that you need to go speak to – just leave them.

6. Interviewing

This can be similar to the networking; however, there is intent in their probing rather than morbid gossip. Keep with your message and if you need to expand, do so in a way that is not disparaging to the company, managers or team member and end it on a positive for you. If you were fired, take ownership, let them know what you learned and how you incorporate that into your strengths.

Everyone makes mistakes, organizations downsize, companies close and sometimes you have a horrible leader. It is life. This is one event in your life, not the defining moment. You define yourself in how you learn, grow and move on from this event.

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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 and their leadership and teams to identify, strengthen and effectively communicate their brand, engagement, commitment and most importantly – their value – by learning and leveraging LinkedIn, 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 Career Polish and how can help you.

Why Your Employees Are Calling Me To Help Them Leave You

desparate phone call

If you are any way responsible for employees at your organization, I have a truth you may not want to hear: either you take care of your employees now or I’ll be taking care of them soon.

I am a Professional Resume Writer and Career Coach, I help people find the jobs they want rather than the ones they have. Your employees may be talking to me now and you do not know it; you probably will not know until it is too late.

According to Gallup Workforce Panel study 51% of employees were considering a new job, 2015.

There are severe consequences to losing an employee including major costs. According to a Catalyst.org, employee departures total costs can reach as high as 90% – 200% of their annual salary. This includes time, money and resources. A departure can also significantly impact engagement within remaining employees.

They are not all leaving for promotions; many are leaving for a lateral move.

It is not just about money. It is about personal satisfaction.

You could be losing your staff and it can be avoided.  Employees leave for a variety of reasons; however, they can generally be categorized within five areas, which may overlap:

Boredom

According to the Gallup study, 58-60% of individuals said the new job allowed them to do what they do best, as opposed to 41-49% that left due to a significantly increasing their income.

This is a sentiment that is becoming more and more common. A client perfectly illustrated this point by saying, “I can go anywhere and make good money. Where I am, I am bored. I need to be challenged. I can do what I do where I am with my eyes closed. I hate it.”

Broken promises

This can come in many different forms:

A promise of advancement or pay increase after a probationary or specific time period.

A misalignment of what they were told they were going to do and what is being asked of them.

The company culture is not at all what was represented in the interview.

Unappreciated

Employees know they bring value to the table; it is nice to be recognized for it. They do not want to feel like a nameless face. One of the worst feelings for an employee is to know that their leadership not only does not know anything about them, they do not care.

An employee may go the extra mile to make something happen for a client and never hear a word from their leadership.  It is worse to hear that that is their job, they should go the extra mile.

They have strengths and ambitions that they have tried to discuss with their leadership only to be responded to with brush off comments.  Now is not the time, we really can’t spare you right now or I don’t know why you would want to do that, it’s not your job.

Pay that does not meet industry or market standards is another form of lack of appreciation.  Income is a motivator, it may not be every employee’s primary motivator; however, it is a significant factor.

Underutilized

Leadership diminishes the value of their employees when an employee volunteers or requests to take on additional responsibilities or learn new tasks and is met with, “I know you could do more, but we really need you to just do what you are doing right now.”

Another form of under-utilization is not listening to employees.  They know.  They know about the clients, failings in the processes or opportunities to improve service or products.  By failing to ask and worse – listen – to employees leadership is under-utilizing its most valuable asset.

Environment

The gamut of bad environments include being unclear of what is expected of them (and worse, getting bad reviews because of it), favoritism, bullying, strong-arming them to stay, increased responsibility without increased pay and sabotage.

What You Can Do Now

  • Talk to them – make it a two way conversation. Do not assume that everyone is just fine because they do not complain. Not complaining does not mean they are happy.
  • Make sure their compensation is right. Throwing money at them when they are on the way out is not the time.
  • Find out what excites or motivates them: opportunity, income, growth, personal fulfillment, empowerment or stability.
  • Find out what frustrates them and what can be changed. Have an honest conversation about this.
  • Discover their strengths, find out their ambitions and help them align the two areas.
  • Help them grow: develop a plan that meets their personal learning style and strengths – one size does not fit all.
  • Treat them as a treasured, valuable employee that you are grooming to leave for a higher position. They may get recruited for another position, but if they feel valued where they are and the rest of their needs are met, they will stay with you, because you value them and allow them to grow.
  • Have continual conversations, set benchmarks, establish deadlines, follow up and ask them for their feedback.

There is a theory that for a successful long term personal relationship, you should treat your partner the way you did when you were dating; the same could be applied to your employee work relationship. You should view them as a valuable investment worthy of your time, attention and mentorship.

We have all heard the saying, “Nobody is irreplaceable”, that holds true for employers, as well. If a company does not create an environment that fulfills them, they will replace that company.

 

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

In other words: 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 Career Polish and we can help you.

Why Does The #1 Business Success Principle Die During Job Searching?

measuring success “What gets measured gets improved.” – Peter Drucker

My first love was compliance, specifically in the financial industry. I began my professional career as a compliance officer and branch operations manager with ownership of all compliance functions.

I loved it. To me, it was a puzzle. Everyone had a piece, from the brokers, agents, clients, FINRA, MSRB, trading desks, margins, options – you name it everyone had a piece of that puzzle. It was my job to know what the picture was we were putting together and get all the pieces in place.

When dealing with local, state or federal rules or regulations I had to not only put the puzzle together, I had to monitor it, create or keep reports on it and prove I was keeping the puzzle together.

I had to know what I was measuring, prove I was measuring it and prove that the measuring was creating a positive effect.

That is a pretty standard process in measuring success: define the goal, create metrics, measure, compare results to goals and make modifications when needed.

This formula is utilized in measuring the success in all forms of business from a sales campaign to an employee’s performance.

There are interdependent keys to this: know what you are measuring, measure and make adjustments. Each element is important. I have yet to talk to anyone working on a project or business that does not incorporate this into practice.

However, I rarely talk to job seekers who incorporate this into their business of finding the next right job.

When searching for a job, it is a job in itself. Treat it as you would in working for someone else because you are – you are working for yourself to build your own business and sell your product – you.

Define

What do you want to do? If you know exactly what you want, this is an easy part. Not sure what you want to do next, great! Really, in making a no list of things you do not want in the next position instead of a yes list of only the things you want, you allow yourself more flexibility and openness to different opportunities.

Your definition can range from “Project Manager Position” to a list of things you want to do, for example:
Work on a collaborative team
Opportunity to learn new things
Be the behind the scenes support
Talk to and support clients
Utilize systems I know and learn new ones
Flexibility to work on different projects
Something in marketing or sales

Or a no list might include:
Being stuck in a cubicle doing the same thing for 8 hours never leaving my desk
Pushing paper that never goes anywhere
Working in a vacuum
Creating excel spreadsheets all day long
Customer service – taking calls from customers all day long
Doing certain tasks that you are good at but hate
Leading a team

These are simplistic lists, yet they are a start.

Whether you have a yes list or a no list, create a list. You need something to compare the job opportunities to in order to effectively evaluate them. There might be a time during your job search that you have a moment of frustration and get excited about a job that you know you can do; however, it is nowhere near what you want but the length of time it has been since you had a decent prospect has been so long you just do not care. Having that list nearby keeps you grounded.

Metrics

How do you know if you are being successful? How can you keep yourself on task during the difficult slow or silent periods? Metrics. Set goals. Your goal can be to meet five new people a week. It can be through LinkedIn, networking, a volunteer activity – whatever you chose, just make a goal. Think about how this goal will help you achieve your success.

Meeting new people is awesome, unless you just do a “hello” and then there is dead air. Metrics are not one line items. Meet new people, create conversations, follow up, offer assistance, get involved – these are all sub-metrics in support of your goal.

Measure

Once you have your goal, action steps (metrics) now you need to keep yourself to task in completing them and measuring their effectiveness. The measuring aspect will also help you refine your metrics.

For example, if one of your goals is to get more visibility on LinkedIn, you may set a goal to join groups that support your business. If you join a group and begin activity with no result, that gives you vital information. The first is that this is not giving you ROI. It is also telling you that you might want to set metrics for your metrics.

Modify

The next group that you look at joining, perhaps there should be some parameters before you join. Evaluate the group size, members and current activity. If it is a very small group that has not had any interaction within the last six months and there are no members that have any correlation with you in any way – this is probably not the group to join.

This holds true to sending out inquires or resumes. If you find that you sent out 50 resumes last week with no response, it is time to evaluate your metrics. By the way, if you sent the same resume to 50 jobs you do not qualify for any of them.

What types of jobs are you applying for? Do you really meet the criteria? Did you demonstrate this? Did you speak directly to their needs and goals? Did you align with the job requirements and responsibilities? Did you follow their directions exactly? Have you defined your value? Can they understand it and find it easily on your resume?

If you find that you are sending out to just anything, odds are you will not get a response. Be strategic, get in alignment, follow up when possible and keep moving.

If you come to a point of frustration, modify your plans. Take a short break and come up with a plan that is not about you. Make a goal of connecting five people next week. Figure out who might be good connections and how you can make that happen. Sometimes the best leads come when you are helping others.

Not only will implementing the act of defining, setting metrics, measuring and modifying help generate more activity, it can serve as a boost during down times. There might be a period where you feel that nothing is happening and you start to question yourself. This is when you take out your business plan, metrics and measurements and you can see – visually, in hand see – that you have come a long way. You are taking action, you are being proactive and the right opportunity will come about because you have a plan and you are working it the right way!

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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

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

Why is Everyone Honking

DC TrafficIn less than six hours in DC I had a realization – there is a lot of honking going on here.

It did not matter where I was, walking or driving, there was a lot of honking.  The first couple of times I jumped and looked around, thinking I was perhaps jaywalking and they were taking that very seriously.  Even when driving I made sure I signaled, took off when the light changed and yet, still a lot of honking.

I do not think that I got honked at, but I started to try to figure out who was honking and why.  I am not used to all this honking.  The thing is, I could never figure it out, on either count.  Lots and lots of honking but no change in movement or traffic patterns.  Just honking.

I think people were honking just to be honking.  As though there used to be a reason to honk, but there is not anymore yet they got so used to honking that they just cannot help themselves from honking.  It is a honking explosion in our nation’s capital.

When I lead workshops I hear a lot of honking.

My job is not going anywhere, I do not like where I am, I want another opportunity, it is time for me to leave – a lot of honking to wanting to move on in a career or job.  But no movement.

We get used to honking about our jobs.  There are a couple of types of honking – the long, annoying ones and the short tap-tap honks.

They don’t appreciate me, they are holding me back, my coworkers are lazy or get all the credit, my boss is a jerk – those are the bad honks.  The honks that are long and laid out there as soon as the light turns green before you can even move your foot from the break.

People ignore those honks and quite frankly cringe when hearing them.  You are putting a wall around you with those honks not only alienating yourself at work, but with your network.

The short tap-tap honks are the polite “just a friendly reminder the light is green” honks.  These are the I want to get another position, but I am afraid to leave or try; I do not have the chance to grow in this position or company, my job is being merged into another and it is no longer satisfying.  These are the “I really want to change lanes but am stuck” honks.

When people hear you give these tap-taps they are probably encouraging.  Listen to them.  It is what you need.  If you do not head someone offering advice or assistance those tap-taps turn into long, annoying honks that no one will listen to any more.

The bottom line is this: we get used to honking so if you are looking for encouragement do not honk about it, just ask.  People will wave you into their lane if you just put your signal on and follow the road safety rules.  The honkers are not happy drivers, be a happy driver – stop honking and go after that new job or opportunity!

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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

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

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