7 Insights To Help You Relate To The Readers Of Your Resume

looking over a stack of paper

I am a very curious person.  As a child one of my favorite words was “why?” My father had a tremendous amount of patience as he would explain things to me.  If we were building something it was never a matter of ‘do x then y’.  I had to know why we did x then y, what happens if we did z first.  I want to know the causes, effects and possibilities.

My father taught me if you understand why you are doing something you can do it better. Apparently, I really took this to heart, apologies to all who know me.

I also incorporate this in my teaching style.  I like to explain the whys of what I do so my audience better understands and can adapt their actions for greater personal success.  I also incorporate it in my articles.  When writing about writing resumes I try to explain why you want to use value-driven demonstrative bullet points rather than duty statements and other points.

For your resume there is another why that is an important factor: how the person reading it reads it. How they approach it and read it is another why on how you write your resume.

So just for a few minutes, let’s take you out of your resume process and think about the people who are on the other side of that black-hole void of submission.

Caveat: to recruiters and human resource professionals, please know I mean no disrespect in the following.  I am simply explaining in a manner which I believe would be most understood by the greatest amount of people.  I am going to use examples and thoughts that I believe most people can identify with.  I really am on your side, even if I do not sound like it.  I do not envy your job.

It is not an exaggeration to say that one open position can generate easily 300+ resumes submitted.  Think about that – how would you like to review over 300 of pretty much the same thing for one position?  How about if you were trying to fill more than one position?

They do not have a lot of time and that is going to impact how they do a cursory review. This is why it is important to write towards how they are going to read and understand your resume.

1. Scanning like a ninja

With so many resumes to review, they have to adapt a system that allows them to quickly surmise if you fit the first cut.  I correlate this to a teenager’s mentality.  I had a house full of teenagers as my son was growing up so this I am very familiar with – and survived. This mindset looks something like this:

  1. If it looks hard to read, I don’t want to read it so I will not give it a lot of attention
  2. Just tell me what you want me to know, don’t make me work for it
  3. If you leave out information, I will fill it in in a snarky way
  4. If you don’t tell me I am not going to ask
  5. I will take it as it is written – not assume more
  6. I will only believe half of what you say

Do you blame them?  That is a lot of reading they have to do – on top of the rest of their job.  As far as the teenage mentality – think about if you have/had a teenager and you tell them to clean their room.  In my house what I said and what the interpreted request was were two different things.  I had to spell it out, in detail and assume nothing.  Do not leave anything to chance.

2. What do you want?

Some companies post multiple positions simultaneously.  It is not the recruiter or HR person’s job to determine which job you want or what is best for you.  You should know this and convey it so they can start evaluating you for that role immediately.

If you do not tell them, they are not going to take the time to help you figure out your career path.  Next resume.

3. Did you read the qualifications or even know what we do?

Listing the position that you are applying for as a title to your resume is not enough to convey an exact match.  You have to demonstrate that you have the qualities to succeed.  In other words – talk the talk and walk the walk.  Incorporate key words, phrases and industry important facts/successes into your bullet points in a meaningful way that demonstrates your expertise.

4. Everyone’s successful at managing

They are already facing a daunting task of getting through 300 resumes, do not put them to sleep.  Using vague phrases like “successful at managing” “oversees department” “X years of experience” tells them nothing of value.

HOW do you manage or oversee?  That is what will set you apart.  Years of experience is good, however, it is not the most important quality.  Just because someone has done a task for 10 years does not mean they are good at it.  What if they have been doing it wrong all those years?  WHY is the length of experience a benefit or give you an edge?

5. Sure you did

Listing that you were number two in sales last year is not really helping your game.  If they read that one or two thoughts could immediately pop into their head:

“What, out of three?” / “Did someone give you a book of business?”

That is the snarky teenager filling in the blank. Tell them HOW you achieved those goals and further define them to show their importance.  If you were number two out of four, maybe not such a great thing; however, if you were number two out of hundreds, well then, that is something.  Of course, if they really want to get snarky, they could ask “why not number one?”

6. Why do I even care?

Everything on your resume should support and further your value.  There should be no fluff that does not serve a purpose.  If you have a bullet point that states that you compile and distribute reports their first response could very well be, “why do I care?”

Determine the value of everything you do and convey it supporting yourself as the ideal candidate for the job.  Otherwise, what is it doing on your resume?

7. You expect me to believe that?

Don’t you even dare try to lie on your resume. It is unethical and it will be exposed.  You will lose all credibility and a job.  These poor people read hundreds of resumes, their bs meter is finely tuned.  If you compose an executive summary and list of expertise that rivals a CEO yet have just begun your career journey as an assistant to the deputy’s assistant junior team member – it will not add up.  You may try to say, well, it is just a little stretch.  Nope, it is a lie.

You have a story to tell – yours – and there is a lot of information to convey.  It is a daunting task trying to convey all that value in an impactful way in two pages or less. Yet writing your resume is not all about you.  You must consider the reader in your writing style to make sure your message is seen, read and understood.

Keep the above thoughts in mind and do a review of your own resume from this perspective.  It will make you improve your branding, communication and the chances of getting past the first round review.

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

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

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please visit LisaKMcDonald.com
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Military & Law Enforcement – Why People Do Not Get You Or Your Resume

military law enforcement

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

resume snapshot

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It doesn’t matter.

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

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

1. What are you applying for?

2. How do you qualify?

3. Can I find the information easily?

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Then what?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It also answers how you are qualified for the position.

It also is easy to read and understand.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I help people get from where they are in their jobs to where they want to be in their careers.

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

To Get Over Fear In Your Career Let It Kick You In The Butt A Little

fight fear

The greatest single constriction that keeps us from reaching our goals, any goal, is fear. No matter what type of goal: personal, financial, career or spiritual, once you boil down all the reasons or excuses the limitation is fear.

I call it a constriction because it is like a choke hold on us, the longer it linger the more it squeezes the hope, joy or optimism from us when thinking of our goal. It suffocates the living breath of this goal.

One of the best ways I have heard to describe fear is: False Evidence Assumed Real.

Fear begins as a notion of unworthiness or inability. Your mind then manufactures or grabs on to things around you to support this idea and it then becomes “evidence”. You then accept this “evidence” as proof, becoming insurmountable and it becomes a reality that you are unable or unworthy.

All this from a notion.

We cannot always eliminate fear; however, I propose that we use it instead of letting it paralyze us. Here is how we can steer that notion for our intent and purpose.

Look fear in the eye and ask yourself, “What is the worst possible thing that could happen to me?”

Death. That is the worst possible outcome of anything.

So is this thing going to kill you? Be honest – is a career move or going after a promotion going to kill you?

No. Now get silly with it. Imagine going on an interview and completely bombing – then the floor is going to swallow you whole.

Or you will get faint from nerves, fall out of your chair, hit your head and there is your interviewer having to call an ambulance.

Can you imagine? That would seem mortifying, but that is a story that I would laugh at. Learn to laugh at the worst case scenarios. Make them bigger and give yourself the giggles.

Honestly, what most people think the worst case scenario would be is looking like a fool. So what? Is it the first time and really, is it going to be the last? Did you die the last time you looked like a fool? Then why would you this time?

The worst case scenario is the least likely –  face it, embrace it, laugh at it and let it go.

If you were not afraid, you would not want it. Another great saying is: there is no growth in your comfort zone. Would it not be wonderful if every time we were ready to stretch ourselves our pinky finger twitched uncontrollably? Think of it – a sure-fire, less physically exhausting way of letting us know that it is time.

Fear is our internal voice finding a way to get our attention. If you had an twitchy pinky finger, you might just ignore it or learn to live with it. Fear really gets your attention by engaging your mind and body.

Some part of you deep down is telling you that you are ready for more. Listen.

Now that you have a better perspective of fear, here is a secret to conquering it: let it kick you in the butt a little bit. Let it become the dismissive voice in your head that challenges you, not defeats you.

Get competitive!

One of the best ways to get me to do something is to tell me I cannot do it. I am a competitive person – just ask my family, son and boyfriend. I am competitive. Tell me I can’t do something then get out of my way because I am going to do it.

Some of my greatest successes came from this competitive spirit, despite fear.

At one point when I was in the financial industry I was in a new position and expected to get my Series 7 and others. It was at this time that my son’s father was diagnosed with cancer and was going through experimental chemotherapy treatments given a less than 10% survival expectation and our son was very young. I had a lot going on at the time and fear of passing these exams was not helping.

One day my boss told me to just try to pass the 7 and we will see what I could do on the others.  I think he meant it in a supportive way, given all that was going on with my family.

That was all it took.  My competitiveness side kicked in.  Oh, pity me and “see” what I can do without expecting anything?

A few months later I passed the 7, a few months later I then passed the 63, 65, 9 and 10. Tell me “try and we will see what you can do.” Ha!

When I had the idea to start my business, I was told it was a horrible idea, I would never succeed, I was ridiculous for even trying. Those statements at first fueled my fear. For a short time; then competitiveness kicked in.

Fear says, “You can’t do it”  Answer, “Shut up and watch me!”

That’s right – I told fear to shut up. The harder it kicked in the harder I fought back. Get pushed down seven times, get up eight.

Fear can deflate you, defeat you and leave you paralyzed unable to reach goals and dreams – or – it can motivate and fuel you. The choice is yours to make.

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

Click here – CareerPolish.com – to find out more about Career Polish and what we can do to help you.

You Lost Your Job – Congratulations!

You Lost Your Job – Congratulations!

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

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

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

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

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

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

We stink at planning our own life.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Just call me Buddha.

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

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

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

Booom!  Wake up

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

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

This is your opportunity!

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

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

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

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

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

Good for you!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Doing adult 24-7 is icky.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰

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

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

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

boring executive resume

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bored

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

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

Would you?

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

Change 1 – Mindset

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

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

Change 2 – Direction

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

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

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

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

Change 3 – Visual

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

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

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

Shake it up a little.

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

Change 4 – The Why

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

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

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

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

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

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

Change 5 – Support

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

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

Change 6 – Impact

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

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

Change 7 – Spotlight

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

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

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

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

✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰

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

I help people get from where they are in their jobs to where they want to be in their careers.

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

Why Writing Your Own Resume Is So Darn Hard – And How To Get Over It

why is writing your own resume so darn hard

It is time. You have decided you are ready to leave that mind-numbing, life-sucking job of yours, go after that next step or change careers all together. You have finally decided that now is the time to go after it.

You create a plan, maybe just in your head, but you have a plan. Get your resume together, your LinkedIn profile cleaned up, let your network know, research, identify and conquer. Great.

So you begin – sitting down at your computer with an old resume or a blank page and start to let the career history and amazing points about you flow.

And you sit….and sit….and sit…..

A great thought just came to mind and you write that out like a masterpiece. Perfect, now just to fill up the rest of the page. But then that little voice in your head starts talking:

“Really? You think that is good? Sure, but for you? That is pretty boisterous, don’t you think? I mean c’mon, you really think you are all that and the bag of chips?”

Scratch that last thought.

And you sit….and sit….and sit…..

Research! That’s it, research how to write a resume or what companies are looking for – that is what you need to get started.

Oh. My. Goodness. Could there be any more information on how to do this and could it contradict just a little bit more? One page, no two; fancy-smancy, no plain and concise; bullet points, no paragraphs – seriously, make it stop.

At some point a level of frustration comes over you and you say to yourself, or in your outside voice, “Why is this so hard?! It is about me for crying out loud, I know what I have done!”

Welcome To My World

Would it surprise you to know that two of the largest groups of professionals I work with are Human Resource and Sales Professionals? One group can read a resume like no one’s business and the other can sell anything. But they, too, struggle with writing their own resume.

Why does it feel so uncomfortable writing your own resume? Three reasons:

Fear, nakedness & monotony

Fear of saying the wrong thing, not saying it in the right way, not using the right format or looking like an idiot.

Nakedness in being in the center stage spotlight and feeling like you are bragging.

Monotony in that what you have been doing has become “just part of my job” and the value that you bring has been overshadowed, covered up and buried in the everyday and expected.

Conquer the Madness

Fear

First, realize you are not the only person that struggles with this. No matter what position someone is in their career, they can struggle with this so relax.

The most important thing you need to “say” in your resume is your value. The reader wants to know what you can do for them and why they want to talk to you rather than the 300 other candidates. This is their most important question.

Turn this around in your mind from describing yourself as an individual to a professional there to solve their problem(s). What is the position, requirements, industry, issues, expectations, audiences, scope and relevancy? Identify these main components to speak to them in your resume.

Next, fight against giving the reader bullet points of your job duties – this is what you were hired to do and no one cares what you were hired to do; they care what you did.

Demonstrate your skills by creating bullet points that speak to who you work with, how you work with them, what you do, how you do it and how they benefit. Not each of these elements will be represented in each bullet point; however it is a good place to start in getting the feel for demonstrating value.

Write this in a manner that is conversational to you, as though you are explaining to someone who has never met you what it is you do all day. Then fine tune it in resume language.

Oh yes, resume language. It is horrible, isn’t it? Incomplete sentences, feeling like you are fluffing when you just want to say something in five words or less.

Stop it. It is not about you. It is about the reader. Your resume is your story, which you get to tell in the way that you want the reader to understand. Any good story must create interest. To create interest you must speak to what is important to them and in doing so paint a picture.

Think about reading a novel. You form an image of a character based on the words the author uses. The reader is doing the same about you. Use words that resonate with you. Be descriptive not for the sake of being flowery, use words to emphasize and create a sense of ownership, expertise, commitment, passion, innovation, excitement or confidence.

As far as the formatting – there are no hard fast rules for resumes. Sure, there are some general guidelines, but nothing concrete “DO NOT EVER DO THIS” because for every one of those, I bet we could find 20 articles telling you to do it.

This is your story, the words and imagery should reflect you. Go to Google and type in “resume sample” then click on images. Look at all those resumes. Do not read them! Just look at them. Which one is your eye drawn to? Use that format. If you like it you will be more likely to promote it.

As far as the one page versus two pages – the person that matters to the most is the person reading your resume, which you will never know their preference. You have a fifty-fifty shot here. What is more important to the reader is three things: 1. Tell me what you are applying for, 2. Tell me how you qualify and 3. Make it easy for me to find and understand in your resume.

Nakedness

It is so very uncomfortable talking about yourself. That bragging thing is a confidence killer. By using the demonstrative process it takes the bragging issue out of the equation and instead becomes a matter of you stating facts.

If you are really struggling, approach it as though it is not your resume. If this was your best friend or spouse how would you write it for them? We beat ourselves up much too quickly and jump at the chance to promote those we love. Love yourself.

Think of this – if you do not tell someone how good you are, who will? Your mom or spouse cannot hand deliver your resume to them and give them a sales pitch for you. And if they do, there are way bigger issues at hand than struggling to write a resume.

Monotony

This is the forest for the trees syndrome. We have been doing something for so long that it becomes routine. It is probably unnoticed or unappreciated by your current employer or become expected (perhaps why you are leaving) therefore you no longer see it as added value.

Break it down, start at the beginning. Go back to when you first started. How did each job evolve? How did you get from one step to the other? Not in terms of “here are my responsibilities and my accomplishments” but the real story. Tell your story to the computer. Type it out.

Get out of resume mode and get into conversation mode, that is when you will start to recall the story and that is when those lost points of value start coming back to you.

If you have some generalized statement on your resume, like, “Implemented a standardized X program” break it down. How did you implement it, why was there a need, who identified it, how did the process start, how did the implementation go, what were the hiccups, how did you solve them, who were you working with during the process, how did it benefit people?

There is a gold mine of value in answering those questions. You can demonstrate a number of skills: communication, project management, strategic thinking, problem solving, collaboration, team building, leadership – and the list goes on.

If You Need Help

Even after this article, you may find that you want help in writing your resume. You may be able to conquer those three monsters, but then it is a matter of time.

How do you find a person to help you? First, do not ask your friends. They will say it looks good even when it doesn’t either to pacify you or make you go away. For more on that, here is a related post on that:

It would be shameless for me to, at this point, say hire me. So I will not. I am not the right resume writer for everyone and not everyone is the right client for me.

Writing your resume is a personal endeavor. It is important to find a professional that is a good fit for you. The professionals in my field take different approaches, just as the professionals in your field do.

What are your priorities when having your resume done? Cost, time, quality? Know your priorities before you do your research. There are companies that will promise a 24 hour turn around, some offer very low prices – there are writers to fit everyone’s needs.

Do your homework. If you are going to employ a 24 hour turnaround company, look at their site and know what to expect. Talk to the professionals and get a feel for how they approach you and your resume. Do you communicate well with each other, in other words, do they get you and what you want out of this?

Do you need someone that will tell you what to do or someone that will expect you to be a contributor in the process? Know yourself and what you need.

Let It Begin

When you start this process, be gentle with yourself. It can be frustrating and you are a novice creating a new sales piece; however, you are the expert on the subject. Take your time and take breaks. Work on it then walk away, come back with a fresh set of eyes. Copy and paste your work into a word cloud to make sure you are emphasizing the main keywords. Tagcrowd.com is a great site for this.

If you were never taught how to write a resume, what makes you think you are should know it all right now? Take the pressure of the search and perceived expectations out of it and start by telling your story to your computer.

Let it evolve, review it as though it was not yours and enjoy the process of rediscovering your value.

✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰

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.

I help people get from where they are in their jobs to where they want to be in their careers.

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

Is Your LinkedIn Profile Telling Recruiters To Ignore You?

waiting for the phone to ring

With so many articles, tips and advice on crafting your LinkedIn profile, some might wonder – is LinkedIn really an important tool for transitioning in your career?

Yes.

Not because Career Coaches and Branding Professionals like me say it is, research provides the numbers:

89% of recruiters use LinkedIn to fill positions
94% of recruiters use LinkedIn to vet candidates

LinkedIn can be instrumental in your career progression, transition and trajectory. It allows you to broadcast your personal brand in the professional arena and cultivate a strong presence. If you can be found.

How Recruiters Use LinkedIn

Recruiters utilize LinkedIn to research candidates, companies and employees. Investigating companies and existing employees allows them to get a sense of the company culture in order to recruit the best possible candidate. With an effective profile, recruiters can identify candidates that fit their clients’ environment, expectations and value required.

Recruiters also leverage LinkedIn for networking as an ideal way to expand their network and build referral sources.

What Recruiters Want To See in Your LinkedIn Profile

Here are six vital areas that recruiters focus on when reviewing a profile. Having all six areas complete, in the most impactful way, demonstrates that you are worth their time and effort to research and contact.

1. A Complete Profile

A bone structure of a profile is not enough. It conveys to the reader that, although aware that this is a valuable tool, you do not care enough about your profile to leverage it. Not the message you want to send to someone who could help catapult your career.

To be considered a complete profile, you should be at All-Star Status.

For a quick reference on achieving this status, click here LinkedIn All Star Status Rocks – How To Reach It In 7 Steps.

2. Photo

Your photo should be professional, current and in line with your industry and position; or the position that you want.

For tips on capturing your best photo, click here: LinkedIn Profile Pictures – This is NOT Facebook

3. Recommendations

Recommendations are icing on the cake. What an easy and impactful way to reinforce your value. It is important that your recommendations support your selling statement and key points as a candidate.

To ensure your recommendations are working for you, click here: 5 Steps For LinkedIn Recommendations That Work For You

4. Activity/Engagement

Being connected and active increases your LinkedIn SEO and demonstrates your level of commitment in your job search and industry. Connect with groups, thought leaders and the LinkedIn community answering questions, posting/sharing articles, endorsing members of your network and updating your profile when relevant.

The size of your network also can demonstrate your business savvy. The opinions vary; however, the general rule of thumb is under 50 connections and you are dipping your toe in the water; 50-100 connections you have a good starting point; 300-400 connections you are one savvy cat; over 500 connections, you rock.

5. Results

Having an All Star status profile might get them to your page, now you need to give them something to read. Demonstrate your passion, engagement, effectiveness and value by doing three things:

✔ Using Action Words – throughout your summary and experience
✔ Demonstrate Value – tell how you do what you do rather than giving job descriptions
✔ Highlighting Accomplishments – give numbers when possible and feature the impact you made on an organization, team, position or client experience

6. Relevance

Relevance is similar to results; however the difference is in building a history of trajectory or a case for transition into a new industry. Throughout your experience and within your summary, paint the picture of the path to where you are going next.

Tell the story in a way that builds from one position to the next highlighting your responsibilities, accomplishments, skills and abilities as natural progression. This is your story; tell it in a way that you want the reader to understand. They may not be able to see the correlation of how one job to the next was a benefit in your career progression – it is your job to tell them in way they can understand..

Additional tips and links to help you boost your profile and catch that recruiter’s eye:

1. Accurate Title. Your title should match what is used on your resume as a matter of integrity; you do not want to explain a made up title or one that cannot be verified.

2. Value Title. If you are in between jobs, guard against using, “Unemployed” “Seeking Opportunity” or listing current volunteer/nonprofit activity.

The volunteer activity as a job title could be misconstrued as you work for the organization. It also weakens your SEO by misaligning with your preferred industry/position, if unrelated.

Create a job title that would be similar to a headline if you held the position you desired. For example, incorporate the position: Inventory Manager with your value: Profitability, Accountability & Cost Reduction with industry: Health Care. Now you can put them all together as:

Inventory Manager Looking to Increase Profitability, Accountability & Cost Reduction in Health Care
3. Include Industry. Statistics indicate that profiles with an industry listed are 15 times more likely to be viewed as those without.

4. Keywords. Utilize keywords in your title, summary, experience and headline. Quick tip: use a space between keywords, for example: use sales / marketing instead of sales/marketing to ensure search engines recognize both words.

For a refresher on how and where to use keywords, click on this article: How & Where to Best Use Keywords for LinkedIn Profile SEO.

5. Completed Job History. Give accounts for your last three positions, if possible. These descriptions should not be a detailed career history or resume, rather they should be a highlight of your responsibilities, skills and expertise. Leverage the description as a conversation starter, not the full story.

6. Leverage White Space. These are humans reading your profile, make it easy and inviting for them to read. Use short paragraphs and think about – sparingly – using characters.

For a plethora of special character options for LinkedIn, click here: Character Limits & Special Characters For LinkedIn Profiles

7. Your Voice To Tell Your Story. Your story should demonstrate the value you bring to an organization and answer any potential questions. Write it as though you were sitting across from your audience and answering the question, “Tell me about yourself”.

For tips on finding and using your voice in your LinkedIn summary, click here: LinkedIn – Pick Your Voice & Stick With It

With the right profile, LinkedIn is a wonderful platform and strong partner in building your network, showcasing your brand and draws opportunities directly to you.

✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰

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 what we can do to help you.

But This Is All I Know

We are a world of boxes; we quickly create our own little boxes and find comfort so we never expand beyond those lines.  Comfort does not always equate to happiness, it may be simply a matter of familiarity.  “It’s not great, but it’s not that bad” is a clue that you are not happy, you are comfortable; perhaps comfortable in misery.

 

Part of my job is to help my clients, workshop attendees or those present at speaking engagements to get out of their own heads and boxes.   If you made the box you can break it down and create whatever shape you choose to surround yourself in.  I’m more of a wavy line kinda girl myself.

 

So often I will talk to a client who has worked in a certain position or industry for an extended period of time and have assumed this job/industry as part of their identity.  A big clue to this line of thinking is when you hear someone introduce themselves as a specific job title; i.e. “I’m a Banker”, “I’m a Compliance Officer”, “I’m a Secretary” etc.

 

First and foremost you are not a title – I’ve said it thousands of times before and I will continue to do so.  The only title I assume is Mother, Daughter, Sister, Aunt, Niece or Cousin.  Only family related and my most prized title is Mother.  No matter what I do in my lifetime first, last and always I am Jake’s mom.

 

So how do you break beyond those walls to re-create your shape?  The first thing is to start asking, and answering, some questions.  Start with the biggie: what do you do?  And let me just say – I do not care what your job is, you add value.  You do not just perform a task, you add value.  Remember this, refer back to it and remind yourself as you go through your questions.

 

Let’s look at two different positions to see how they can identify their value to move beyond where they are to where they want to go: a Business Banker and a Delivery Driver.

 

At first blush in answering the “what do you do” question they could answer, respectively:

 

“I help businesses with their banking needs” and

“I deliver packages to people”

 

But is that all they do? NO!

 

The banker must build a relationship with their clients to gain their trust to gain full access to their entire business picture; they must compile an immense amount of information; they analyze all the data and factors; they must utilize business savvy to see the current and future picture; they must learn their client’s business landscape to fully understand the goals; they create plans with actionable items in order for their clients to make informed decisions; they help them identify their current goals and long term objectives.

 

The delivery driver must adhere to a strict schedule and utilize time management and problem solving skills when challenges arise; they must utilize prioritization skills to make immediate adjustments in order to fulfill expectations; they build relationships with each contact; they must maintain a professional image no matter the situation; they must think on their feet and immediately utilize problem solving and/or conflict resolution skills; they employ organizational skills throughout the day and they maintain flexibility throughout the day balancing efficiency with every changing and demanding conditions.

 

A lot more than helping with banking needs and delivering packages, huh?

 

Not once in those explanations did you see a title; again, you are not a title.  You provide value in performing duties.   Relationship building, organization, analysis, problem solving – those are all skills utilized by both.  Which brings me to an important point: when looking at what you do start identifying the skills that you employ to perform these tasks.

 

Do you see how you start moving away from a title and more toward skills, value and assets?  Once you can start to identify these then you can take a whole new approach to your job searching.  Instead of looking for titles or positions that fit where you have always been; start looking for positions that meet your skill set.  These positions could be completely different that what you have ever done or in a whole new industry.

 

Stop looking at the job titles when looking for a job – start looking at the job itself.  If it is something that tickles your fancy then do an analysis.  What skills do they require and have you utilized these skills in the past and how can you demonstrate that to the prospective employer?

 

By looking at your job or previous jobs from a perspective of what did you do rather than this is all I know you will begin to see those walls crumble and allow yourself to open up to all sorts of possibilities that exist for you beyond that box.

 

Quick note:

 

I am working with The Grindstone to kick off Career Connect – an interactive speaker series to help people with various career experiences.  On March 1 I’ll start the series off speaking about career transition.  To find out more about this and sign up to join please go to http://thegrindstone.com/career-management/interactive-career-advice-series-756/#comments!

 

I highly encourage you to attend these sessions – they have lined up some fantastic speakers and I am so honored to be included in the list, let alone kick it off!

 

 

Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Career Coach-Strategist

Certified Professional Resume Writer

Career Polish, Inc.

http://www.CareerPolish.com

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