Why Your Resume Hates You Back: 5 Peacemaking Tips

hug a paper“I hate my resume.”  I hear that a lot when I talk to people about their resume.

The reasons vary and include things like

It’s boring
It doesn’t really tell my story
It’s all over the place
It doesn’t really say anything

Here’s the thing – as much as you hate your resume and it has all these negative traits, do you realize that you have put them in there?

Your resume didn’t write itself, it was just a blank piece of paper that you put words to. It wants to be exciting and tell your story in a way that is engaging, effective and says the best about you – but you won’t let it. That is why it doesn’t like you back.

One of the hardest things to do is to write about yourself. It might start out easy, but then you get stuck. That voice in your head starts putting in its two cents. Things like:

You really didn’t do anything there
Doesn’t that sound like bragging?
You were just a Position Name, it wasn’t that big of a deal
No one cares about this

That is another reason your resume doesn’t like you, you don’t respect its content – which happens to be your value.

Let’s start making peace with your resume.

Stop looking like everyone else

It is your resume, let it represent you. If you do not like the visual appearance, odds are you will not like sending it out or be able to write anything that supports you.

Remedy: Go to Google and type in ‘Resume Sample’ then click on Images. Do not read any of the thousands of images that appear, just glance through them. Find one that you are attracted to and recreate the visual for your own resume.

Set the stage

Every good story starts with an engaging introduction. Under your letterhead, create an opening statement that sets the stage and expectation for the reader. In this opening answer the reader’s most important question: What can you do for me? They need to know why they want to read your resume rather than any other. This is where you tell them the very best about yourself. Your skills, abilities, audiences, successes – all the things you bring to the table.

Remedy: Write this after the rest of your resume. Trying to write this first can cause more stress. Once you have found and demonstrated your value throughout the rest of your resume, you will find it easier to know your strengths and the themes that carried through your resume.  The more you like it, the more you will promote it.

Tell them what you did, not your job description

One of the most common things I see in reading career histories is the tendency to detail job descriptions. This tells them what you were hired to do, which does not tell them if you did it or even did it well. You can use a job description as a start, but to add value you need to dig deeper.

Think about who you worked with, how you worked with them, what was the point of what you did, who benefited and how did they benefit? Incorporate these questions into the job description and it will transcend it from a “hired to do” to an “added value” statement.

Remedy: At the end of your bullet points, write the words, “which resulted in” and finish the sentence. Then freestyle it, write it in a way of just talking through it. You can put it in resume language later. For example:

1. Prepared weekly reports.
2. Prepared weekly reports which resulted in…
3. Prepared weekly reports which resulted in the Purchasing having the numbers they need to see they are on budget and keep track of what they paid vendors, gave reports to Controller and talked about what information was needed, rewrote the spreadsheet to make it easier to input and put together, Controller said it helped a lot and was a better report, emailed it to admin…
4. Recognized by Controller for creating effective weekly departmental reports utilized for budget and vendor price tracking.

Find your theme

Instead of telling the reader where you have been and letting them try to figure out how that fits into what they need, write your resume forward.

Look at the position you want and write toward that position. Identify the important skills, qualities or abilities for that position and then review your history to find the similarities.

If the position you want requires a great deal of experience or ability in customer service, first, analyze what it takes to provide good customer service. Good communication skills, listening, problem solving, thinking on your feet, collaboration, adaptability, positive attitude, professionalism…

Now, go back to your past positions and incorporate those traits in your statements. Describe the detail of your past positions from this perspective.

Remedy: Edit your existing bullet points by incorporating those key words. Instead of saying you presented a report to the group, say you utilized effective communication skills to present the report and ensured engagement and understanding of each team member.

Start appreciating you

It is not just what you did, it is how you did it and what someone gained by you doing it rather than anyone else. Someone else can have the same job that you do, but you do it in a different – and better – way. That is the story you need to tell. That is the story you need to appreciate and tell that voice in your head to hush.

It can be hard to quiet the bragging factor, feeling like when you say something good about what you do that it sounds like you are bragging. Think of it this way – if you did it then it is a fact, all you are doing is stating facts. That is not bragging.

Demonstrating eliminates the bragging effect. Saying you are the best at something and leaving it at that is bragging. Stating that you are excellent at something then demonstrating how you do it and the value that it provides is stating a fact.

Remedy: Incorporate two things into writing your information: the 5 Whys and explaining it to a young person. The 5 whys is a questioning method to find cause and effect. Explaining it in a way that you would to a young person allows you to break it down into the basics. Then you can go back and rewrite it in resume language.

I write a report
The Controller needs it
For their forecasting and tracking
To see if they are on budget and how much they pay vendors
Because the company wants to save money and sometimes if we don’t keep track of the numbers, we overpay
Because we have over 100 vendors and it is hard to keep track of them

From this you can take a “Wrote weekly report” and turn it into “Wrote and delivered weekly report to Controller meticulously tracking over 100 vendor pricing to ensure accuracy of payments and adherence to budgets.
The bottom line is it your job to tell your story to present yourself as the solution to a prospective employer’s problem. When you can do so from a place of demonstrated, appreciated value you and your resume will begin to work together in a peaceful, happy relationship to take you both where you want to go.

I Am Sorry They Laughed at Your Resume – 10 Tips for Avoiding Resume Blunders

laughing in meetingEven before I was a professional resume writer and coach I heard about bad resumes. When a position was posted and resumes started to stream in, the bad resume jokes and stories circulated throughout the office almost as fast as juicy gossip.

People laugh at resume blunders. It is not nice, it is bad karma or against golden rules and yet it still happens. It will continue to happen, but I would like to make sure it does not happen to you.

So here are 10 ways to tweak your resume, cover letter and communication to make sure you are noticed for the right reasons and not as water cooler conversation.

1. Apply to the job that is posted.

A friend recently had a writing position open within her company and requested applicants attach a copy of their best work. A young woman attached a logo design. This was for a position in which the candidate would be writing, words, lots of words, not doing logos. To make matters worse, it was a bad logo.

Do mention the job for which you are applying, please do not make the mistake of assuming they will k now. Companies have more than one position open at a time, people finding candidates have many, many other things on their plate – make it easy for them by spelling it out.

2. Use proper grammar and spelling.

Another candidate stated in their cover letter, “I am current looking for a job relating in ….heard about your company which I am interesting.” Ouch. Please, please, please have someone proofread your resume. If you do not feel comfortable asking anyone you know I will let you in on a secret:

Libraries are one of our most forgotten gems.

Not only do they have wonderful staff that you can ask to help you in proofreading, they have great resources and often free classes. Go get your library card.

The statement “I worked four Big Company” will not appear with a red or green line in Word. It does not recognize the wrong “for” – proofread.

Spellcheck is not foolproof. Try reading your resume from the bottom up. Often we read what we expect to see and overlook small errors which a prospective employer zooms in on right away.

3. A little creativity goes a long way.

You want your resume to stand out, yes; however, keep in mind that an actual person is going to be reading it. To many font changes, colors, graphics and creative touches can make it difficult for someone to actually read your resume.

One candidate submitted a resume in all caps. It was small caps, but it was all caps nonetheless. She was yelling at the prospective employer, not a way to make a good impression.

4. Connect the dots.

It is not enough to read the job description; you need to use it as a blueprint. They tell you what is important for the job. Integrate those skills and factors into your resume. Make the connection; allow them to see that you are qualified for the position.

Write to where you want to go, not where you have been. Look back at your previous and current experience and tell your story so that it demonstrates the knowledge and application of the required skills and abilities. Paint the picture of you already in the job.

5. Exaggeration is entertaining and eliminating.

People who are forced to read resumes – and I say forced because I have yet to meet anyone who says they like doing this – read a lot of resumes with “fluff”. Over exaggerations, stretching the truth, lies; whatever you want to call them, they have seen it all. They tend to become skeptical and only believe about half of what you are saying – more on this in tip number six.

If you used Excel once to make a grocery list do not proclaim to be proficient or expert level.

If you are not familiar with the industry jargon, do not attempt to use it to fool them into thinking you are all that and the bag of chips. They will read your resume and proclaim out loud, “Liar, liar pants on fire.”

6. Demonstrate rather than simply state.

Telling them that you are the world’s greatest anything is not only an exaggeration, it is irrelevant. They are not going to believe you just because you said so, you have to prove yourself.

I once had a candidate that stated he should be at an executive level because he had a “CEO mindset”. He could not explain what that was but believed because he thought like a CEO and had a master’s degree that was darn well good enough to move from a floor sales position in retail to a executive position.

How do you prove it? Demonstrate. Instead of making a statement, tell them what you did, how you did it and the benefit that was received in you doing so. The proof is in the pudding.

7. Job descriptions are for job postings.

It is easy to copy and paste your job description into your resume as bullet points. But that only tells them what you were hired to do, not what you actually did. They do not care what you were hired to do, they want to know how you contributed and made a difference.

“Prepared reports for quarterly sales meetings.” = so what
“Gathered all sales data from three departments to prepare detailed reports utilized during quarterly sales meetings for projections, tracking and ensuring each representative was on target with goals.”

8. Desperation is not flattering.

Actual statements seen in resumes include:

“I just need a job”
“Give me a chance and I will prove it”
“I can do anything”

Along the same lines is telling them what you want, i.e., “I am looking for a job where I can utilize my skills and abilities to help a company grow and increase my knowledge.”

They do not care what you want. They care about what you can do for them.

Instead, open your resume and include in your cover letter what you bring to the table, how you can succeed at this position and provide the relevant proof to back up your claims. This is what is most important to them.

9. Cover Letters Count.

If they are read.

Not everyone reads your cover letter. Some people read it after your resume. Others read it before your resume. You just never know. It is better to have one and not need it rather than the alternative.

I have a friend who is the President of a company and he reads every cover letter for any position within the organization. He uses the cover letter as a filter. If there is a mistake then the entire package is dismissed, not matter what the qualifications of the candidate.

The Cover Letter is your introduction. This is where proper grammar, spelling and business writing comes into play. Do not assume that it will not be read and put little effort into it.

Open with why you are applying – not because you saw the job posted – but because you are a match to their requirements and you are interested in the position and company.

Use supporting paragraphs to demonstrate how you are the best candidate speaking directly to their requirements and expectations.

Close on a positive letting them know your interest and availability to discuss in more detail how you can do great things in the role and look forward to talking to them soon.

10. Common sense and courtesy.

A friend uses an auto response on their website when candidates submit their resumes. It sends a nice note letting the candidate know that their resume was received, would be reviewed and if it meets the criteria, they will contact them.

One candidate replied to the auto response email informing them that he is applying for X position and attached his resume and cover letter to his email.

They got it the first time, the same resume that contained errors and was in no way related to the position.

Follow up appropriately. There is a fine line between following up and stalking. Do not stalk, people do not like that. Check in, be upbeat, professional and helpful. Instead of asking when they think they will move forward or start interviewing; restate your interest and ask if there is anything else you could provide to assist them.

Take your time in preparing your resume. This is your personal sales presentation. It is your story, tell it the way you want them to understand it yet make it applicable to their needs. Present yourself as the solution to their problem.

Once you have compiled your resume, take the time to break it down word by word to ensure it will hold up to any scrutiny that might ensue. Getting a job is a job in itself; prepare your resume and any additional communication as though your job depends upon it, because it does.

The Path from Have to Jobs to Career Passion

mazeI posted a great quote this morning: “Talent is a pursued interest. In other words, anything you are willing to practice, you can do.” – Bob Ross.

There were a couple of comments that took me in a different direction: passion. One gentleman described his journey of 25 years from painting to building complete homes bottom to top. Another said it beautifully: “If one is pursuing an interest, be certain it is a passion. If that is the case, that interest will never be lost”

It is wonderful to hear about people following their passion, even better to hear when it is successful and best yet to live it personally.

But what if you don’t know what your passion is or feel like you will never get to live it?

There are a couple of things to keep in mind before getting frustrated if you feel this way:

Passions change
There is no straight line

When I was in college I was passionate about the criminal justice system and social change. I knew when I graduated with a degree in Criminal Justice with a minor in Sociology I would be ready to change the world.

Then life offered me a different path, I met my ex-husband and we had our son. My passion was then being a full time mom to this tiny human. Later I completed my degree, but my original college passion had changed.

If you would map out my professional career history and put it next to a drawing my son did when he was 2, they would look identical.
Something like this:

With each position, my passions were sparked, doused, modified, clarified and identified. They changed and morphed until it all came together in a clear picture.

Even then, the path in following my greatest passion was not a clear-cut way marked with neon signs saying, “Do this”, “Go this way”. It was still a twisty path that I had to navigate. It also did not come to me until I was at an age that was not considered young.

Relax, you have time, you do not have to figure it all out right now. Even if you think you do, it will change. Just go with it and lighten up – it will happen when you allow it to happen for you. There is no timeline for finding and pursuing passions.

In identifying and defining my greatest passion I was taken on an amazing journey. Do you know why I can say that now? Because I suffered through the crap that I had to do, not wanted to do, and survived it. At the time the word ‘amazing’ would not have entered my vocabulary. Ok, it did, but it was normally followed by words like “…load of @#$%.”

When following your passion, more than likely you are not going to tip toe through the tulips; oh no, you are going to wade through fields of manure that comes up to your knees. Bad jobs, low pay, ridiculous hours, and having feelings of being underutilized, unappreciated, discouraged, frustrated, unworthy and many others that make you want to just give up.

Do not give up.

I had a full range of jobs from unpleasant to vile. I had jobs that had no relevance to what I am doing now. I had jobs that I would come home and think, “What am I doing? Is this what my life is going to be like forever?”

But each one was necessary. Each one taught me a lesson. What I want, what I do not want, what I will accept, what is unacceptable, how to behave, how to manage, how to lead, how to inspire, how to avoid getting thrown under the bus, how to survive being thrown under a bus, who I wanted to be and who I did not.

I had great bosses and horrible bosses. I had wonderful colleagues and people that made me question humanity. I did tasks that challenged me and things that were mind numbing. I had jobs that thrilled and excited me and jobs that sucked the life out of me.

Each one was a step to where I am now.

Do not give up.

It may not make sense now and that is okay. Each one of my jobs did not fit in my passion path. Some taught me personal lessons, not professional lessons. Do not try to make everything fit in the box. Boxes are constrictive and hold you back. I also learned to blow up boxes – it is fun, liberating and became another passion.

Look at where you are and where you have been and try to view it from a perspective of where you want to go. What did you learn? What did you like about your duties? What were you complimented on?

Start small, relax and remember – this is your journey. You will find your passion, when you are ready. Passion equates to love, and like the song says, you can’t hurry love.

No, you just have to wait.
You got to trust, give it time.
No matter how long it takes

I bet that song is now stuck in your head – you’re welcome. I just can’t decide if I like The Supremes or Phil Collins’ version better…

Don’t Give Them a Reason to Ignore Your Resume

apples and orangesI had a conversation the other day with a gentleman who was expressing his frustration about his job search. He told me that after a continued period of absolutely no response, he started researching resumes.

His first frustration is there is a tremendous amount of information out there and most of it is contradictory. So he went with the most general and commonly accepted points. But even this, when he compiled a list of agreed upon traits, was a very small and generic list.

His second frustration is not knowing what to say to get someone to notice him. He has listed duties and accomplishments and they seem to be right in line with what the job postings are requiring of a candidate.

His third frustration is how to say what he wants to say. He looked on line to see examples of resumes and pretty much copy and pasted the common bullet points in other resumes that were a fit to what he did.

His fourth frustration was that none of this was working, he was not getting noticed.

That is a lot of frustration. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon.

I can address the last three frustrations in one statement, but first let me address the first frustration:

There is a lot of information out there and if you really start digging into it, it can easily become overwhelming; especially when every other article you read contradicts the one you read before it. As a professional resume writer, I would like to apologize because I am sure that some things I say or suggest contradict others.

Here’s the thing about that: there are very few hard and fast rules to resume writing. It is a matter of style and personal preference infused with a varying degree of coaching and training. You can ask five people that do what I do one question and you can get six answers. We are all going to have a certain degree of variation on our spin.

So how do you sort it out and know what is right for you? By knowing what feels write and is in alignment with you. If someone suggests pie charts, pictures, varying fonts and lots of color and that does not jive with you – don’t do it. It is not right for you, which means you will not be fully vested in your resume and therefore not prone to promote it.

Now, about the not knowing what to say, how to say it and utilizing what everyone else is doing – I will tell you exactly what I told him:

If you don’t want to be seen like everyone else stop writing like everyone else.

How will you distinguish yourself if you use the same concept, form, words and bullet points as every other candidate? What in that makes you stand out or tells the reader, “This one is different?”

What is that distinction? Value.

You can have three other people that do what you do but what makes you different, better or a more attractive candidate than the others?

What makes you unique? Is it your education, skills, training, experience or the way you do the things you do? It is most often a combination of these things and a few more, including the value you provide.

Think about these questions and answer as many of them as apply to any single task or responsibility:

Who do you work with?
How do you work with them?
What do you do?
How do you do it?
Who benefits from this?
How do they benefit?

When you answer all of these questions on the first pass, there might be a lot of information to write down. That is fine, just take that and put it all together, then you can trim it down into a bullet point.

What you will be left with will be a value driven bullet point that will sound like no one other than you.

That is how you bring alignment with what you have to offer and what the position requires and makes it very difficult for the reader to ignore you.

Networking: Break the Rules to Make Connections

HandshakeThis morning I had the pleasure of doing one of my favorite things: talk to a group about one of my favorite topics – the elevator pitch.

If you are in business the elevator speech should not be anything new to you. It is simply 30 seconds of verbal mayhem that supports or blows up your first impression.

Your introduction is critical because all business begins with an introduction; either you introduce yourself or you are introduced via a third party.

This morning a couple of the attendees mentioned that what I presented is different than what they have heard from other professionals. What they had been told was more about structured rules, protocols and expectations.

There are many networking groups and they have certain protocols that their members or attendees are expected to follow. You should respect these protocols. As far as all the “rules” of elevator pitches, if they do not work for you – break them.

You can talk to 10 people that do what I do (career, networking, business building coaching or resume writing) and can get 12 different answers to the same question. You can also do an internet search on the topic and really get overwhelmed with advice, dos and don’ts.

Given this overload and sometimes conflicting information overload my suggestion is this: read or listen to it all then stop using your head and listen to your gut. Use what resonates with you. This morning what I said, as explained below, resonated with the audience. For them it felt like breaking the rules and it felt good!

The Context of an Elevator Pitch

If you break down networking to the core it is all about building relationships. Relationships are based on an exchange of value. Before you can build a relationship, you must first make a connection, which is the point of your elevator pitch.

Make a memorable impression

I have a hard enough time remembering names, there is no way I can remember titles. My brain filters those out because they are unimportant.

Titles are meaningless for two reasons:

1. Titles allow your audience to determine your value. If you had a friend that had an unscrupulous broker who caused them to lose all their money in the market, what do you think their personal impression of brokers would be? If they were at a networking event and someone walked up and introduced themselves as a broker, do you think your friend would have the warm and fuzzies for this person?

Your friend is assigning a negative impression and value to someone they just met solely on the basis of their title.

2. Titles do not convey value. There are certain titles that do not need to be elaborated on, for example Pediatric Surgeon. That pretty much sums it up. However, for the vast majority of us titles are ambiguous.

The Crafting of an Elevator Pitch

You are not a title, stop introducing yourself as such. Introduce yourself as your value.

Make it clear

What do you do and for whom? Break it down to the very basics. What do you do? I have a friend in insurance and he does lots of things for his clients. Planning, sells insurance, blah, blah, blah. But what does he do at the core? For him and his clients it is all about retirement. His core is preparing and guiding his clients to be able to retire when they want with the income they want.

His what is retirement his who is his clients. He changed his introduction after we spoke from “I work in insurance to help my clients plan for and …….” I am not including the rest because I am pretty sure you started nodding off after hearing “insurance”.

He now introduces himself as “I’m a retirement coach.”

Make it less (to get a response)

I was at a networking event a month or so ago and a woman and I were talking when we were approached by a young man. We followed proper etiquette and invited him into the conversation asking what he did.

That was a mistake. After two minutes we started shifting in our places, after three minutes we started shooting each other sideways glances. By five minutes we were saved by an announcement over the loudspeaker. And we still didn’t know what he did.

You want to elicit a response from your audience, preferably a positive one. Ideally you would want a question. This gives you leeway into a conversation.

My friend who is the retirement coach is almost always asked a question. He purposefully uses a very short introduction to lead to a deeper connection.

Make it personal

I love the IT industry. I have a great deal of respect for people who work in this industry. I also know they get a bad rap. I also know that a lot of them do not help themselves clear that rap. I work in branding, I work with social media and with technology. I know what I know and it enough for me at this time. I also know when I am out of my league.

When I have to call on IT professionals the first thing I tell them is “I am an IT idiot, explain things to me as you would a three year old.” I just do not get what they are talking about when they use IT verbiage. I am also not alone.

When you describe your value, describe it in a way that other people – us non-industry people – will understand. Make it relatable to me. If I can understand it and relate to it I will remember it. I cannot talk about you or refer you if I can’t remember you.

One client started introducing himself in this way, “You know when your company does a system update and you come in the next morning with a crashed computer?” pausing for a positive response “I’m the guy that makes sure that doesn’t happen.”

Make it real

This is about you so it should sound like you. Not resume you, real you. The person I am talking to right now and at any time in the future. Be authentic, be yourself. My dad told me many years ago that a lie is much harder to remember than the truth. It is much easier to be yourself in every situation than present a façade and keep it up.
Some people are going to like you, some are not – there are no two ways about it, you cannot please all people all the time. The real you will resonate with the right people, clients, prospects and organizations.

I am a straight forward, blunt and high energy. I also practice the art of effervescent witticism (sarcasm) and sometimes my language does not meet with my mother’s approval. I am this way in my blogs, seminars, talks and coaching. I am consistent. You know what you are getting. I am passionate about what I do, I give my clients my all and I celebrate their victories as much as they do.

I also am the kind of coach who tells her C-level executive client that he has a bad case of verbal diarrhea. It clicked with him and he appreciated it. He also said no one had ever told him that before (even though he knew deep down he was doing it) and I told him because everyone else was afraid he would fire them.

This does not resonate with everyone, this is why everyone is not a client and I do not want everyone as a client.

When he refers me he can tell his peers what to expect and they get it. Part of my brand is my consistency in who I am and the value I provide to my clients.

This leads me to my last point:

Make it repeatable

The more I understand what you do and how it relates to things I can understand the greater the chance I will remember you and more importantly, mention you.

Many times in structured networking events you are expected to mention the types of contacts or companies that you are seeking for an introduction. If I know that contact, but not your value, then how can I introduce you?

If I tell one of my contacts that they need to talk to you one of their first questions will be either, “Why?” or “What do they do?” If I cannot answer that question I will feel stupid. It is as though I am telling my contact that I am using them and it is a one way introduction – for you to get value from them but not for them to get value from you.

Telling them a title will not answer their questions. If they ask me what you do and I say you are an IT Manager they will ask more follow up questions to determine if they want to have that conversation. Your value will determine if they will share one of their most valuable resources: their time.

Sell me on you so I can sell you to others.


Be a Courteous Driver So Your Network Will Help Your Job Search

drivingMy dad taught me to drive.  In doing so he taught me to be a defensive driver – always being aware of my surroundings and anticipating what the other drivers are doing assuming they are not paying attention.

Boy was he spot on.

Overall I’m a pretty relaxed driver.  I let people merge in when they need to, I’m ok with taking turns, I give leeway to semi-drivers and try my very hardest not to be in a position of merging at the last minute.

There are just two things I firmly believe in:

  1. Turn signals are an indicator not a right
  2. You should always, always do the friendly courtesy wave-thank you when someone lets you in

Last night on a walk with the girls we discussed the appropriateness, validity or need for the last minute merge.  This is where I should mention that one of the girls if from New York.  Enough said.

The general consensus was it is not acceptable to do the very last minute Indy Car slide in; the only exception is if you are unfamiliar with the area.

Here’s another interesting note: we noticed that people in Ohio will merge at the very first sign of an upcoming lane closure.  It does not matter if it is five miles out, they get over.  Impressing and stunning drivers from New York and Indiana alike.

I only get irritated with the “The Road is Mine” drivers.

You know these drivers, they are the ones that turn on their turn signal as they are coming over no matter if you are still occupying the lane or not.

Their mindset is “I turned on my turn signal letting you know I am coming over so get out of my way.”

I don’t think so.

You may have communicated with me via a turn signal your intent, need or demand; however, I am not going to put other drivers at risk because of your lack of planning and road self-centeredness.

Sometimes I run across people in job searching who hold the same skewed thought similar to turn signals.  “I told you I was looking for a job so you have to help me.”

Have to.

Not please and thank you, no, “I would greatly appreciate it”, but have to because I mentioned it.  I turned on my turn signal – move now.

I don’t think so.

First, expecting people to help you is a very selfish way to go about things.  People help you because they want to, like you or care about you – not because it is an obligation, an obligation that you create.

Second, perhaps they are not in a position to do so.  It doesn’t mean they will not in the future, but at this very moment they cannot.  That does not make them bad or mean, just a person in a situation of circumstance.  When the lane clears they may be more than willing to help you out.

Third, maybe – just maybe – in telling them you are looking for a job you have been remiss in giving them important information.  Did you tell them what kind of position, in what industry, doing what types of things, in what area etc?

Announcing to your network that you are looking for a job is too vague.  So vague, in fact, that it actually hurts your network’s ability to help you.  They cannot key into opportunities that align with your skills, abilities, needs and goals with “looking for a job”.  Nor are they your staffing agency to be on the lookout for every single opening and be compelled to send it to you.

Just because you turned on the turn signal does not mean you have full right to the entire road.  It is merely an indication.  How you use it from there is up to you.  Your next actions will determine if those around you help you or hinder you or even ignore you.

Instead of turning on your turn signal and pushing into the lane; try turning it on well before needed, take caution when merging and give the “thank you” courtesy wave when complete.

In other words, do not tell your network “I am looking for a job” and expect them to help you – and then behave badly when they do not.  Instead, let them know the important aspects and give appreciation.

Let your network know what type of job you are looking for, what role do you want to play, what are some of the key attributes of the position and in what industry.  Give them the key words to hone into.

When your network does help, because they want to, please do not forget the courtesy thank you wave!

Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Brand Strategist & Career Coach

Certified Professional Resume Writer


Branding is Not Just a Catch Phrase

lots of wordsMy internet went out.  For about four days it played hide and seek in working.  Yesterday my allocated appointment finally arrived and I was able to get rebooted, connected and upgraded.  All was right in the technology world again.

It was not without incidents and the poor technician sat patiently on the floor of my office while we waited to see if the new equipment was going to play nice.  Making small talk, he asked what I did for a living. 

I explained what I do and told him it was all about branding and that I was a Brand Strategist.

He told me that it was interesting that I said “Brand” because he is going through management training and they keep emphasizing knowing and managing your brand.

Coincidence?  I think not.

For your career, your next promotion, in securing that ideal client or breaking into your target market – it is vital to know and be able to communicate your brand. 

Branding is an important concept, one which I do not want to get dismissed by having it relegated to a catch phrase.

Branding is not just the way you look or behave, it is a matter of value.

Branding is like your reputation, it is not what you say about yourself, rather what other think of you.  In branding it what others see, feel and receive as your value. 

Branding is not a title or slogan. 

Branding is what sets you apart from others, whether they be competitors or team mates. 

You can do the same job as someone else, but you do it in a different way.  Defining that difference and why there is value to it is the essence of branding.

The best piece I can give to anyone in conveying their brand is to convey their value rather than their title.

Immersing yourself only in a title can do you more harm than good.  Only using a title to describe yourself allows your audience to define what that title means to them, this could be a good thing or a bad thing depending upon their personal experiences. 

Identifying and communicating your value – your brand – allows you to set the appropriate stage for you and the expectations for your audience.


Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Brand Strategist & Career Coach

Certified Professional Resume Writer



The 1 Thing To Do RIGHT NOW To Recharge, Launch or Boost Your Career, Business or Job Search

finger pointingI am going to let you in on a very powerful secret.  It is something that you can do immediately upon reading it that will literally change the game.


Imagine people helping you, willingly and with joy, find that right job or connect you to the right clients.


And it will start to happen when you do this one thing.  The best part is – you can do it right here, right now without any physical strain or money invested!


Seriously, it is that easy.


And it is literally two words.


Can you imagine a life-changing opportunity by just following two words?


It can happen – you just have to follow these two little words.


Are you ready for it?  Really, really ready for it?


It may sound harsh and may be bold but ok, here goes; brace yourself:


Stop whining.


That’s it.


That is the wisdom, that is the simplicity and that is the key.


I have spoke repeatedly on the importance of having gratitude, knowing your value and giving to others unselfishly; however before you can begin embracing these things (which are all important components of reaching your goal) you must first start at ground zero.


Ground zero is you.  People will support you and opportunities will develop if you allow them.


Whining repels people.


People get frustrated and feel unappreciated in helping someone that continually complains.  The more you whine the more people quite honestly do not want to hear it, especially if they have tried to help you.


Imagine the good feeling you have in telling someone about a potential job opportunity and their response is, “well it really isn’t what I am looking for, it is beneath what I have done in the past and I am just so tired of the only jobs available are ones that I am way overqualified for.”


I would be done.


We have a little thing we do between my son, his father and myself to help remind each other to not whine.  When, even in a missed attempt, we try to help one another if the receiver starts whining the giver simply looks at them and says, “You are welcome.”


People give because they want to and they will continue to give when they know it is appreciated and they feel it has done some bit of good.  It makes people feel good.  We like to feel good; therefore, the more good we feel we do the more we give.


Whining tells people immediately to not even bother trying because you probably are not going to appreciate it so it will suck the happy right out of your giving.


Two words, so simple in their statement and even thought I have presented it in a flippant manner, it isn’t as easy as it sounds.


When you get into whiner zone sometimes you do not realize how far deep they have plunged into that pool.  Whining becomes a natural reaction.  An annoying reaction, but an instant reaction.


It has to be a conscious decision one that you work on until it no longer is a reaction nor a chosen response.


When you feel a whine coming on take a breath.  It will make you stop a beat.  Either bite it back and don’t release it out loud or try something radical – state out loud something you are thankful for.


This doesn’t have to be major, just something.  For example I came home the other day with my mind on fully focused on a project unsure if it will come to fruition.  While I was gone pup number 4 had decided to open the mail, go through the sales papers by tearing them up and leaving them all over the kitchen and then making sure no other pup played with his mess, he peed on them.


Needless to say I wasn’t a happy camper.  Instead of whining about it, I took a breath, smiled at him and said, “I’m thankful you didn’t poop in the living room.”


Hey, you take a win where you can get it.


The point is, I could have easily come home and whined about the project and lack of movement, but instead I realized no one wanted to hear that and hey, my life isn’t that bad, I didn’t have to clean up poop.



Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Career Coach-Strategist

Certified Professional Resume Writer

Career Polish, Inc.




If You Are Apologizing For the Why Then It’s the Wrong Why or the Wrong Audience

why - black and white

One of the first questions I ask prospects interested in working together for either career advancement, business building or job searching is “What is going on?”


For me to get an accurate understanding of where they have been and where they want to go I need to understand where they are now – and the reasons they want to change.


Some of the responses I have heard are:


I hate my boss.

I want more money.

I want to move.

I want more challenges.

I want benefits.

I want stability.

I want to be happy.

I am tired of the life being sucked out of me there.

I want to be appreciated.

I want to figure out what I want to do when I grow up.

I want to help more people.

I want to build my client list.

I want to expand into a new market.

I want to be able to take more time for myself.”


No right answers, no wrong answers and no judgments about one reason being more worthy or noble than any other.


Your reason for wanting a change is like your opinion: it is yours and therefore cannot be wrong to you.  My job is to help you get there, not to judge you on why you want to go.


So if you are in line with your why then who has the right to judge you?  I heard Bob Proctor say once that it was none of his business what other people thought about him.  It took me awhile to get that, but once it sunk in, I truly enveloped it.


But here is the thing – if you feel you owe me an apology or explanation as to why you want to leave then maybe it truly isn’t your why.


I have certain goals.  They may seem selfish or selfless to others, but that is not my concern.  They are well thought out, personally driven aspirations to which I have committed.  I know I am committed to one when I can tell my best friend point blank what it is without adding the noise.


The noise is the “I want this because…” statements.  I don’t have to justify to her or explain, she accepts my goal for what it is – something I want, not an idea that she needs to approve or modify.


If you find yourself having to explain your why then you need to re-evaluate one of two things:  the why itself to see if it truly rings true to you or the people that you are sharing it with.  If the people are asking you for justification then realize that is their problem – not yours.  Perhaps they cannot admit to themselves that they, too, want more money.


We are told wanting more money or responsibilities could be seen as selfish.


It isn’t.  With more responsibility you can give greater value to your team and your company.  With more money you can provide more to your family, self, friends and community.


The more you have the more you can give.  That seems pretty selfless to me.


Yes, you benefit, but so does everyone around you.


Stop beating yourself up for the why and accept it, embrace it, commit to it and then take action toward it.


Once you do these four things you can accomplish it!



Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW



Are You Expecting Too Much From Your LinkedIn Profile?

confidenceAs a resume writer, career and business coach I am one of the first people that will tell you how important a LinkedIn profile is – a good LinkedIn profile – for you and your career/business.


I will also tell you that it will be a very good tool to use in combination with other factors of your job search/business building.


However, it is not the miracle worker and should not stand alone.

Give it a break, it is a piece of your overall communication, not the be-all, end-all everything in one problem solver!


Too often individuals will craft a LinkedIn profile and expect that once they upload it the phone sill start ringing off the hook, offers will pour in the door and the sky will open to let a light and chorus of angels sing “hallelujah” as all the rights will be wronged and business will pick up or the right job will be offered.


That’s a lot to expect out of one piece of the puzzle, don’t you think?


Let’s review what your LinkedIn profile is or should be:


  • An inviting personal narrative where you are speaking directly to your targeted audience.
  • An opportunity for you to add your personality into communicating your value.
  • A brief narrative written in first person to build a connection.
  • An invitation for further communication.


In other words, this is either step one or step two in a multi-step process.  Often recruiters or hiring managers are reviewing LinkedIn profiles after they read a candidates resume.  Prospective clients will also check out your LinkedIn profile after hearing about you, your company or reviewing any prior company information (like a website).


In that case it is step two.  It could be the first encounter that someone has had with you so that would be step one.


If it is step two it needs to add further dimension and depth.  Let them see you.  Express in your own personal way how you add more value than the other guy, are an expert in your field or the contractor of choice.  Give them another take away as a second touch.


If it is step one you are setting the stage for the above.


In either case the point is to engage and invite further communication – without demands or outrageous expectations.


Do not think that just by reading your LinkedIn profile that is enough to sign the deal.  They are still going to want to talk to you, find out more and make a decision on their own that you are the right person.


Use LinkedIn to set the stage for that next level of communication.  If you are job searching are their certain skills, value or ability that are important for your next position?  Then these should be highlighted and given enough leeway for further communication.


In other words: you don’t need to tell them every single aspect – just enough to demonstrate your value and create the desire to find out more.


If you are utilizing LinkedIn to build your business speak directly to your client’s needs and follow the same principle: demonstrate your value and create the desire to find out more.


Invite them to connect with you and why they should.  As a general rule we make decisions when they are easy to make.  Give me the information I am looking for, an easy way to contact you and a reason to do so and I am more likely to reach out.


But make sure you are ready for that next communication.  Are you following up, are you available to respond, are you presenting the same context and tone that you established in your LinkedIn profile?


If I am impressed with your profile and the tone of your message but then speak to a person who is disinterested or worse – do not get a response at all, I will quickly dismiss you as a candidate or prospect.


I want to make sure the person I read about and felt connected to is the same person I speak with either by phone, email or in person.  If there is any difference it will create confusion and that will end any prospective deal.  I don’t like being confused or dealt with the responsibility of figuring out which person you really are – it is exhausting.


Do you have a resume or business communication that mirrors your LinkedIn?  They should not be the same, but similar.  If a recruiter has already read your resume and sees that your LinkedIn is simply a copy and paste of that they are going to think you are a one trick pony.


Remember – a resume and business communication are more of an arm’s length communication.  You are not sure who all will be reading it so you have to make sure it is professional, yet comprehensive for the potential audience.  LinkedIn profiles are to be written more as speaking directly to that one person reading it.  A personal connection written in first person where it is expected to use words like “I”, “me”, “my” and “mine”.


Bottom line: make sure your LinkedIn profile is written in congruence with your other business tools, utilized as a communication stepping stone and that you are prepared to continue the message during subsequent contacts.



Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW