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

Alone in a Crowd

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰

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

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

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

Advertisements

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.

✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰

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. ★

 

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.

✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰

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.

 

✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰

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!

✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰

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.

The Lost Art of the Thank You Note

thank you cardA few months ago I attended my best friend’s son’s high school graduation party. After all the food and festivities the three of us had some quite time. While I debated as to the tipping point of too much food, she and her son went through every card. He read each one, told her who gave it to him and had a nice comment about each and every person.

Shortly after, he went to reservist training and in his packed belongings was the list, thank you cards and stamps. He was personally going to write a thank you note to each and every person. Not only thanking them if they attended, for any gift but to also put a personalize note to them. His mom did not make him to this entirely; he knew it was expected of him. He understood and appreciated that they spent part of their valuable personal time on him.

Sending a thank you note after an interview is the same concept, plus one. You are thanking the interviewer for taking part of their valuable time to meet with you. Trust me, they have a lot on their plate, this was a sacrifice for them. The plus one is you are also letting them know you are still interested.

Business writing can be a bit overwhelming, especially when job searching. Too often we put extreme pressure on ourselves to say just the right thing. So let’s break it down into the four basic parts and ease our way through it. We will also hit on some please do not do’s, timing and delivery.

Four Parts of a Thank You Note

1. The Thank You

Start off by thanking them for their time in meeting with you on the specific date to discuss the position.

2. Reinforce the Positive

Let them know that you enjoyed hearing about one or two certain aspects of the job that align with your skills, experience or value and tie into a winning moment in the interview.

This is how you tie back to a positive connection that you made during the interview.

Think back through the interview where you think you really scored or you two seemed to click. Reiterate that moment. They may have a goal of abc and in the interview they seemed to perk up about your experience in being successful in achieving those goals.

In the thank you note you can simply say something to the effect of, “I am confident that the experience, lessons and successes I have in xyz, I can bring immediate value in helping company name in achieving abc.”

3. You are Still Interested

It amazes me to hear hiring managers, HR professionals and recruiters tell me that more often than not, interviewees do not let them know if they are still interested in the job after interviewing. All too often, they let these candidates drop. You are interviewing the company just as it is interviewing you. As nervous as you are that they like you, they have the same feelings and nervousness.

We all want to be liked, they are no different. They want the right candidate to like them. They also like to be told that you still like them.

A simple statement such as, “after speaking to you I am even more interested in the opportunity/position with company name”

4. Set up the Follow up

Conclude the note with either confirming the next steps or setting the stage for following up. If, at the end of the interview, you were told that the next step would be an email at the end of the week then your conclusion could be, “I look forward to receiving the email by the end of the week and moving forward in this process.”

If there was no next step defined, then a gentle prod is okay. “I look forward to speaking to you soon about the next steps in moving forward with this position.”

Delivery and Timing

Write the note after you come down off the interview high, but the same day so the information is fresh. I recommend sending a thank you note no later than the next day.

It is an electronic world; it is acceptable to send it via email. Just remember this about email verses formal letter writing – email is expected to be shorter. The reason I called it a thank you note instead of a thank you letter is for brevity. Make it short, sweet and to the point.

Mailing a formal thank you note is acceptable too, who does not like to get good mail?

Please Do Not Do’s

Please do not remind them of a negative. The thank you note is not a place to make up for mistakes during the interview. Focus only on the positive. They might have forgotten about a misstep during the interview, why bring it up again?

Please do not use the opportunity to ask about salary, vacation or benefits. This is simply a thank you for their time and letting them know you are still interested. This is not an informal information gathering opportunity.

Please do not demand of them. Saying things like, “I expect to hear” or setting time frames on them is not appropriate.

Please do not try to play passive aggressive. This is not the place to let them know that you are being considered for another position so they better step up.

Please do not copy and paste the same thank you for each interview and each interviewer. The premise can be the same, however, make tweaks for each individual and situation.

Please do not lie. If you are not interested and do not want to continue with the process, let them know – in a nice way. This is a three step process:

1. Thank them for their time and let them know you appreciate learning about the company and position.
2. Let them know after much consideration that you do not feel that you are the best candidate for this position/the opportunity is not in the best interest of your family – any manner in which you can politely decline in a positive way.
3. Leave the door open: close with a statement that you wish them, their department, their company much success and hope that if another opportunity that aligns with your skills/goals or unfortunate circumstances were removed, you would love to have another discussion.

Will the thank you note cinch the job for you, probably not. However, it does provide additional touches to the interviewer, reinforces positive aspects about you and solidifies your professional brand.

✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰

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.

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

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.

4 Things Not to Say to Your Dog or an Interviewer

luke suprisedOne of my top cringe-worthy sayings is “I’m a people person.” When I would interview someone and they would tell me this I would respond with, “That’s nice, I’m a dog person.”

Dogs are incredibly intelligent creatures. Although there are times that I challenge my own conclusion on this when they do weird things like eat their own waste or vomit, but overall, they are intelligent. They understand what you say not only in words but in body language and actions.

I cannot say, “I’m going to walk to the store” because the mention of the word ‘walk’ starts a frenzy in my house. Of course, when something has been destroyed in my house and I say the phrase, “Who did this?” I get a trio of blank stares and head turns with perked ears with the implied response of, “We don’t understand what you are saying, we don’t speak human.”

There are phrases or words I cannot use if I want to maintain an environment of peace and calm; there are also words or phrases that I have learned I just cannot say to my dogs. These just happen to correlate with phrases that you should not say to an interviewer.

You Understand

No, really, they do not. Dogs and people are going to understand what you tell them, not what you intended to tell them. Telling a dog, “I cannot play with you right now because I am too busy, you understand” does not equate to them getting the fact that you have a deadline.

What they know is you are ignoring them. Period. You might as well tell them that you don’t love them anymore. Dogs do not connect dots. Cats chase glowing red dots, dogs are oblivious to dots.

When talking to a hiring manager and they ask you about a situation, ending your response with “you understand” is the same as telling them “I really do not have a good answer to your question so I am leaving it up to you to fill in the blanks for me.”

If you are asked a question that gives you the opportunity to highlight a skill set or accomplishment for goodness sake take full advantage of it. They will not know how wonderful you are and what a great fit you are for the job if you do not tell them. Do not assume they are connecting the dots. You know what they say about assuming….

I Didn’t Mean To Put That There

My pack has always included big dogs. I had a Great Pyrenees, Sheppard/Husky mix and currently a Lab – pictured above. The thing about big dogs is there is nothing they cannot reach. My kitchen counter tops are clean and bare by necessity, not design. I can put something in the very back of the counter or lock it in the oven and as soon as I leave the room it is eaten. My Lab can unlock things. He laughs at child locks.

At this point it is of no consequence to the dog in telling them that I didn’t mean to put the food item there and that it wasn’t for them. They don’t care. If I put it there and it is within reach then it is fair game. That means if they can reach it, they will eat it. Plain and simple.

For an interviewer this equates to putting something on your resume that you do not want to discuss or highlight. Everything on your resume is fair game. If you list it and I am a hiring manager than I have full opportunity to explore it.

Often I have found people will include items on their resume that are actually weak areas or tasks that they do not want to do. When reviewing these items in resume reviews I am told, “I didn’t mean to put that there, I really did not have a lot of exposure to it but I thought it would look good on my resume.”

No, it does not, especially if you cannot speak to it with authority and confidence. I am not a technical genius to say the least. If I were putting a resume together for myself I would not mention proficiency in certain applications because the truth be told, I might have worked in them, but it was a slow and painful process.

Trying to make yourself look better by listing something you are not skilled at and then going a step further by trying to proclaim you are proficient in it is one sure fire way of discrediting everything that you have said to that point and everything after.

If you cannot speak to it as a value add then leave it off

Biscuits are Not a Priority

My dogs live for treats, and tummy rubs, but mostly food related items. Biscuits are a priority for them. I call all treats ‘biscuits’ because this is their favorite word. My dogs are spoiled, they get biscuits for things like going outside and pooping. What an awesome life they live, they get rewarded for doing what they have to do by nature. I would have a revolt on my hands if I proclaimed that biscuits were no longer a priority in my house.

You need to know the hiring manager’s biscuits. Factors include industry, clients, target markets, skill sets; what are their goals, mission statement, short and long term plans. If customer service is their biggest biscuit for the position for which you are interviewing then you darn well better come prepared with a box of results, value and accomplishments related to customer service.

If, on the other hand, you tell them that customer service is not high on your priority list or worse, tell them that you do not like it, you have just lost the job. One, you were not prepared for the interview; and two, you are not the right fit.

I once interviewed a young lady for an investment associate position, she would be responsible for tracking orders in the market, spreadsheets for clients and verifying costs basis. She was doing fine until she told me that she wasn’t really a math person. Math was a pretty big biscuit for that position.

I Don’t Have Time

I don’t know about your dogs but when mine want to go play and I am trying to finish something up and tell them that I don’t have time right now I get the look. One will give me the pathetic look, one will give me the disdained look and the other gives me a look of sheer confusion. This is important to them, how do I not have the time? Do I not love them anymore? Next thing you know I will tell them that I don’t have any biscuits.

Telling a hiring manager that you do not have the time to learn a new system, technology or skill set is telling them that their job and company are not a priority for you; now or in the future. You do not see it worthy to give them extra time to be a part of the team.

If you are asked about the company for which you are interviewing and you tell them you did not have time to research it, you are telling them you do not care. You are not engaged or interested in the position. It could very easily translate that you are only looking for a paycheck.

My dogs have taught me about unconditional love. No matter how bad my day, if I am out of the good biscuits and they have to suffer with the yucky ones, or have less time to play, they still love me. This is just one wonderful thing about dogs.

Jobs, on the other hand, not so much. Start slacking on the biscuits, giving less time or effort and they do not show unconditional love; they show you the door. You have to put in as much as, or more, than you expect to get back to reach that point of satisfaction, joy and success.

If you are going after a job you have to want it; and wanting it means you have to know the ins and outs and be excited to do that and more. This is best demonstrated by doing your homework, being prepared, communicating your value and be engaging in the process.

✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰

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 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.

3 Reasons To Quit Your Job –Is It Time To Go?

As the song gYoung entrepreneur contemplating a projectoes, breaking up is hard to do; especially when it is with your job. There are many different motives for a breakup; however, we can summarize them into three reasons: you want to, you need to and you have to.

Understanding the difference between these three reasons can help you salvage your job, reclaim your sanity or get the clarity to get the heck out.

Each reason is going to be individual to each person; one person’s want is another’s need. These lists are generalizations and not all inclusive; it is important that you clarify in your own mind your needs, wants and have to reasons.

You Want To

A want according to the dictionary is a desire or a wish for; for our purposes this is a time that you are just not feeling good about where you are and this creates a bit of wanderlust.

  • You are not valued in terms of ideas, income, accomplishments or recognition.
  • You are stuck unable to advance or gain new knowledge and skills, there are no more opportunities.
  • You either dread going to work or it is mind-numbing, the passion or fun is gone.
  • You dream of doing something else, all may be just okay where you are, but you dream of something more.

You Need To

The dictionary defines a need as a requirement, duty or obligation; in a job situation this is when the situation is causing some degree of damage to you personally or professionally, although not on a catastrophic scale.

  • You have a bad boss who you do not respect, does not respect you or is not going anywhere. They may be incompetent, unsupportive or sabotage your efforts for their own gain.
  • You do not fit it or you clash with the corporate culture.
  • You no longer know what is going on or are the last to know; your boss is no longer including you in decision-making or projects directly related to what you do.
  • You have burned bridges or damaged your own reputation either by picking a fight with the favorite employee/suck up boss, behaved in a manner which is deemed untrustworthy, unprofessional or improper.
  • You or your family is stressed out; the environment, hours or anxiety is taking a physical or mental toll.
  • You have experienced a major life change; getting married, having children, losing a spouse – any situation in which your current position no longer supports your personal family needs.

You Have To

Have, according to the dictionary, is defined as being compelled or under obligation; in a job situation this is when there is no light at the end of the tunnel, the worst case scenario is to stay.

  • Your company is going downhill fast – losing clients, not paying its bills, laying off in numbers or needing upper level approval for the most minor of decisions.
  • Your ethics are being challenged; you are asked to lie to clients or coworkers, you see unethical business practices or illegal activity.
  • You are experiencing verbal abuse, bullying or harassment.

The Decision

If your decision is based on a want to list, take the time to make a pros and cons list and give yourself the opportunity to realign with your job or create new opportunities to correct the wants. Make sure you have explored every opportunity available to improve the current situation; this will help ensure that you do not jump into a similar or possible worse situation.

Once you have made a decision to leave, the key factor is time. Do you need to leave immediately or can you wait it out a bit while you look? No matter your timeframe, now is the time to make a plan.

  • Identify what you want to do – is it in the same industry, is it the same position, is it the next position up or is it a whole new direction for your career.
  • Identify what value you have to offer – not what you were hired to do, rather what you did. Who did you work with, how did you work with them, who received value from you doing what you did and what were the results of that value.
  • Create your branding strategy including your resume, networking and LinkedIn.
  • Start networking in your own circle and expanding to include new contacts.
  • Create a no list – these are the job specifics that you do not want included in your next job; having a no list rather than a yes list leaves you open to opportunities you might not have considered before.

Lastly, make sure you create a plan for leaving which includes leaving gracefully including a timeline and an explanation; there is no reason to burn bridges.

Leaving a job can have mental, emotional and financial ramifications. Take the time to evaluate why you want to leave and if there is the opportunity to improve your current position to best prepare for that next adventure: finding the next right job.

The Help You Get is Not Always the Help You Need

Luke paintBedrooms were painted this weekend at my house, it was an event in which the whole family participated – which means the humans painted and the dogs got paint all over them.

Bless my little puppies, they really did think they were helping. They wanted to be a part of the process, to not miss a moment of the fun and to share the experience. I highly recommend the color Wicker for a room, just not for a dog; although I do believe Luke wears it well.

Sometimes people think they are helping and they really are just getting your paint everywhere and getting hair stuck to the walls.

There are plenty of articles that will tout that up to 80% of jobs are secured through networking, the numbers vary but this is a pretty common and accepted percentage.

Networking is critical not just in finding the right job, but also in building a connection of influencers, prospects, allies and accountability partners. I am all about networking. I love it, I teach it and I am a great networking wing-man.

As great as networking is and allows for an abundance of opportunities, there are downsides.

Some people do not know how to help you.
Some people do not want to help you, only themselves.

Painting Helper Luke – Do Not Know How

The ones that do not know how to help you have the best of intentions, they really do. They may hear that you are looking for job so they give you a couple of names of hiring managers. Unfortunately, the jobs they are hiring for are just not right for you. The job could require a lot more certification or experience than you have, in an entirely different field than what you do (and you have no desire to change industries) or in a whole other state (one in which you do not care to relocate).

These are the Lukes – very excitable and anxious to help, but not really having a clue what you need. Luke thought he was helping this weekend by being close, he would sit right next to us as we painted and that meant sitting his butt right up against the wall. Luke lacks focus.

How to focus the Lukes – give them details that they can relate to and remember. If you are in purchasing then you need to explain this in a way that resonates with them. Explain what you do in a way that you would to someone that is not in the industry or use an example of how you would do what you do for them or their company. They need to understand to be able to help, and this means they need a little bit of clarity.

Painting Helper Lexi – Do Not Want To

Those that only want to help themselves normally are trying to make themselves look good or they are just going through the networking motions because they see it as a necessary evil. These are the Lexis. She wasn’t so much of a helper as a hindrance. More than once we had to gently ask her to move because she would position herself right where we needed to paint.

I have encountered the “I’m such a connector – I’m awesome, even though it has no value to you” and the “here’s a name just so I can look like I’m contributing although it is not a good contact for you”.

How to eliminate the blocks set up by Lexis – ask why. When someone says you need to call so-and-so ask them why. It is not rude, so do not worry about that. It can simply be asked as, “Thank you for the contact, so why do you think we would be a good connection?”

And it is okay to do follow up questions. If they respond, “Well, she knows everyone!” That sounds good, but no one knows everyone. So a good follow up question would be, “Great! Does she know a lot of people in the XYZ industry/hiring managers/purchasing department etc.?”

Gain as much clarification before you make that call and waste your time and theirs. This happened to me. I once called a woman – just because the person I knew from networking was so enthusiastic that she was wonderful and a great connection for me. When I did call her, bless her, she asked me why I was calling.

I told her I was referred by this guy and she said, “Okay, but why?” I was stumped! I was honest and told her “I have no earthly idea, but thank you so much for taking my call and I apologize for being unprepared and taking up your time.”

Turns out she and I met up again months later at another event and we hit it off. She is now one of my closest friends and a mentor.

It is wonderful and exciting to get leads through networking, just do a little more homework before and after getting the lead to make sure it is a good one and that is worth your time and theirs.

One last word – be sure to reciprocate. Now that you know how to handle the Lukes and Lexis – do not be one. Listen to what people are saying, ask questions to clarify and offer assistance when you can. To give, one must give.

Back to top
%d bloggers like this: