Thanksgiving – A Time To Create Your Own Personal Sales Force

thanksgiving-family

I remember as a little girl having huge family gatherings for Thanksgiving with extended family that I only saw once a year catching up around enough food to feed an army.

It was fun, although what I remember most is a slice pumpkin pie hidden under mounds of whipped cream. Maybe that is what I enjoyed the most.

I realize some may be dreading this tradition tomorrow, but to that I say: why not use the opportunity presented if you are looking for a job?

Immediate, extended family or friends will probably try to make polite conversation and ask what you are doing now. Instead of dodging the question or answering with, “I’m looking for a job” generic gloss over, why not transform your family into your personal sales force?

What exactly is your own personal sales force?  It is your people identifying potential opportunities and selling you or bringing the information back to you to follow up on.

If you tell your family that you are merely looking for a job and Great Uncle Ed says there is an opening as a road kill cleaner-upper, are you going to jump on that?  Probably not, although, hats off if you do, someone needs to do that thankless job. Thank you road kill cleaner-uppers!

This is the critical part: you must translate what you do and what you are looking for in a way that your family understands it.  If they get what you do and what you want they will more easily recognize it when they hear it. This, in turn, makes it easier for them to sell you to others and/or bring back the opportunity to you.

The first thing to do is to understand exactly what it is you do – not in a job, but in terms of value.  What value do you provide to others?  This does not mean a title.  Titles are only given value by those who hear them which is based on their own experience.

In other words, if you work for a mortgage company and second cousin removed Gertrude just had her home foreclosed, you might just get a turkey leg hurled in your direction if you tell her you  are a mortgage broker.  She won’t know what you do, but she will associate you with the not so nice experience she encountered.

Back to the critical part – if you family understands your value, they can sell you any time anywhere, as demonstrated by my son when he was in high school.

Between football practices he brought a buddy home to raid the fridge and hang out.

His friend asked what I did and my son replied, “she helps people get jobs.”  Cringing out of sight (because that was not at all how I would say it and felt like he didn’t get it), I let the conversation continue.

Which was a good thing because then, the magic unfolded.

His friend asked how.

Boom baby! 

He got it. He presented it in the perfect way – for his audience to ask a question.

He then explained that I work with them doing their resumes, help with interviewing and ‘all the stuff that helps them get a job’.

Then next day his friend’s dad called and hired me.

My cousin is a tech genius.  I am clearly not.  He had to explain what he did to me in a way that I got it, which included using simple examples that related to my personal or business life without using technical jargon.  I was not offended, I was relieved because I finally got what he did and was not afraid to ask about it anymore.

It is not necessary to know the exact job you want.  Giving your family some parameters with this is helpful.  For example you may tell them that you have worked mainly in banking but would not mind going into brokerage or insurance.

Or simply tell them that what you do could be in a lot of different areas so you are not looking for one industry.

Relax on be perfect and fine tuning a pitch. You are not on a job interview or formal networking event. This is honest to goodness labored over turkey, stuffing, and all the fixins here people, not networking chicken!

Talk to your family and friends. When you explain what you do, it is okay to ask them if it makes sense to them.

The more they know the more they can help, and isn’t that part of the whole family thing?

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

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

★ In order to be kept up to date on all my articles Click the “Yes Please!” button on the right side. 

 

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How 3 Men Determine What I Post & The Importance of Social Media Yardsticks

three generations of men

My dad gave me one of the greatest pieces of advice when I went to college: if you are ever unsure what to do or say, just imagine me standing next to you.

I found this to be invaluable, so much so, that I still hear this in my head and subscribe to it to this day.  My dad has been gone for over 20 years and yet I often imagine him standing right next to me.

My dad was one of my biggest supporters and grounders.  He kept me grounded instilling a foundation of treating others with respect, honesty, working hard, taking care of family and friends.  He supported me by never letting me settle for less than I deserve or want.

Imagining him next to me has helped me stand up for myself, go after bigger goals and maybe a time or two keeping me out of trouble.  Okay, lots of times.

I told my son this same advice.  He has yet to see the wisdom in it.  *sigh*

My son was an athlete.  There were many times I had to imagine my dad standing next to me at his games.  My son would sometimes comment that he was surprised at my restraint. I explained that as his mom, my behavior reflects on him.  This he listened to and understood my perspective on image.

There is one thing about my son – he is a very protective boy.  He grew up with a single mother who scared the crap out of his friends, yet he is still very protective.  He is also very proud of my company and very alert to anything that could look detrimental to my image, career or person.

The point of this little family reminiscing is this – I have two yardsticks to measure against before I put anything out there.  Not only do they always have my back – I also represent them.

I represent my company, my son, my parents and family.  How does what I say reflect on them?

LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and any medium in which you can freely express your opinion or thoughts that are instantly accessible does not come with yardsticks.  How often have we read stories of someone who whipped out a tweet that they instantly regretted – yet haunted them and caused major destruction?

My boyfriend is an officer in the military.  I now add him to the mix.  As his partner, I am a reflection of him, too.

Just a gentle reminder for the day and suggestion: before you hit submit – ask yourself this question: would you dad, mom, child or significant other be okay with what you are putting out there?

Would you be representing them well?

I am absolutely dedicated to my profession and clients; yet my family – that is a whole new level. I would be devastated if I were to do anything that would embarrass or disrespect them.  My brand is not just about me, my company or my profession.  It is about the person that I am and my core values. Staying true and respectful to those things translates to my company and profession.

 

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

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

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

You’re Not “Just” An Anything

I was fortunate to grow up in a family that ran the gambit of social, economic and professional boundaries.  My dad was a diesel mechanic, my mom head of payroll, a grandmother who started her own business and traveled the world, an uncle who was a cook in a prison, another who leads one of the top accounting firms in the state, stay at home aunt, another who was lab assistant in a hospital, a brother who traded money on the Chicago Board of Exchange but hated it so went back to bartending and cousins who range from attorney to construction worker.

 

I say fortunate because I never knew any of them as titles or ever thought to judge them for what they did for a living.  My family includes democrats, republicans, gay, straight, all colors of the rainbow, rich, poor, happy and disturbed yet no matter what they are or do I simply know them as family.

 

There are some that continually refer to themselves as “just” this or “just” that immediately and definitely devaluing what they do and themselves.

 

Knock it off.

 

Not everyone wants to be the CEO of a company and not everyone is cut out to be the CEO.  It takes a lot of clerks to run a court and each one is important.   I was talking to a friend of a friend the other day and he was being very sheepish about what he did and he finally said, “I’m just a server.”  Apparently he was embarrassed because he is in his 30s and feels this is a disgrace.

 

I told him I thought it was great because I know it’s one of the hardest jobs there is and I loved working in a restaurant.  Once he saw I didn’t look down upon him for this he immediately lightened up.  I’m not one to judge someone for what they do for a living, it’s not how I was raised.  Unless you’re a professional hit man, then I have a problem with that.

 

Do not put a “just” in front of your title as a way to apologize to anyone for what you do.  If you are providing for your family, take care of your responsibilities and do right by yourself and others than you are alright in my book.  Screw what anyone else thinks – it is not their life.

 

Others may accept this implied apology but I don’t; and I know plenty of others that do not as well.  Another thing you do when you put that “just” in front of your title is make us feel uncomfortable.

 

When someone introduces themselves as “just” something it immediately puts up a stop sign for any further communication about that topic.  So now what can we discuss because we are now right in the thick of an awkward moment –thank you very much.

 

I love what I do, I am fortunate, I know.  I also took a very long, difficult and crazy road to get where I am – I’ve worked my tail off to get where I am and where I am going.  But guess what, I’m the same girl that worked behind the counter at Dairy Queen serving Blizzards upside down, worked in a vets office sitting on the floor brushing out a dog while it rested it’s head on mine, the secretary at a law firm convincing my 86 year old boss that a computer is really better than a typewriter….

 

I was and am never just anything other than myself.

 

 

Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Career Coach-Strategist

Certified Professional Resume Writer

Career Polish, Inc.

http://www.CareerPolish.com

Manners Used To Be The Rule Now It Seems They Are The Exception

I really hated typing that title. Maybe it is just me, maybe I am the only one who mourns the loss of manners. Perhaps it isn’t a loss of manners it is instead the absence of manners. Either way for me it seems like a personal loss. In the last two days I have had two conversations and it just reiterated the absence/loss of manners.

Yesterday I was talking to James Ryan Owner and Chief Development Officer at Lotus Development. James is a business coach – check out his website at http://www.lotusdevelopment.net/Home.htm. Our discussion was primarily regarding the lack of follow through from job seekers. This is a blog all on its own, but at one point he had stated that of six people that responded to a tweet he sent out only one followed up. I mentioned something about manners and he said that he hadn’t thought of it that way, but it would have been nice.

Late yesterday I received a call while I was on a conference call. I emailed the caller and told her that I was on the other line and would call her back. Once I hung up from my conference call I got another call which triggered several other events and by the time I sat down it was 9:00pm. The next thing I knew I woke up this morning on the couch with four dogs. The oldest doesn’t cuddle and she was glaring at me from the chair across the room.

I emailed her this morning and explained the situation. She responded that she knew I was busy and it was okay. I emailed her back and told her busy or not it was rude and I apologize. Her response surprised me. She literally said “Wow…Thanks! I’ve never had someone apologize or say it was rude.” Now, I emailed her because she is working and I do not want to interrupt her day otherwise I would have called.

I don’t think that I am in any way better than anyone else because I have this fixation with manners. Personally, I grew up with wonderful examples in my life and that helped form my behavior and thinking. Some are not so lucky, some people were never taught manners unfortunately and others, well I think some people just don’t give a damn.

My grandmother was the essence of a lady. She was intelligent, head strong, independent, loving, worldly, classy, nurturing, tough and had a shoe collection to die for! She was beautiful and carried herself with class and dignity. She could walk in a room and her presence drew admiring looks and positive attention from all. She set the bar for me in representing a real woman. I miss her to no end.

At her funeral a friend of hers who had known my grandmother for decades told me that one thing that struck her about my grandmother is she never heard her utter a negative word about another human being ever. My grandmother had a sharp wit and keen sense of humor, she had it in her; but she chose not to utilize it.

My grandmother had impeccable manners and as I wanted to be like her I emulated her to the best of my ability. My parents were wonderful examples. From my mom and dad I learned the value and appreciation of employing manners to your partner, family and friends. They were best friends and partners in crime. They treated each other with the utmost respect and never failed to use manners in their interactions. I remember growing up hearing lots of “please” and “thank you” and appreciation. We may not have had a lot but I was rich in learning the value of how to treat ones you love.

Doesn’t it make you feel better or just make your moment when someone uses manners? When someone holds the door open, when they send a follow up thank you, when they take that small extra step – doesn’t it make you smile just for a moment? I know it does for me and it’s not something that I immediately say, “Oh, they used manners”.

So if it does help make your day, why wouldn’t you do the same for someone else? It really does not take but a moment to do; however we get so lost in the business of our day that it is the one area that suffers. If you are going to carve out a few minutes today to do something, try taking a few seconds to use your manners. The results will be positive – I will bet dollars to donuts.

Apparently it is time to pay attention to one of the puppies as he just brought me a toy. Actually he dumped it in my lap and then plopped his head right next to it. And of course, I thanked him for giving me his toy.

Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW
Coach & Strategist
Certified Professional Resume Writer
Career Polish, Inc.
www.CareerPolish.com

Choosing Your Family

Sitting in my office this morning I looked out the window and watched two young sisters ride their bicycles in a reoccurring pattern. Without being able to hear a word I could tell there was some sort of competition going on there. When the younger one got stuck on a turn the older one jumped off her bike and immediately ran to help her. She gently coaxed her younger sister around the bend then resumed the competition.

My brother was six years older than I and we were worlds away. He was an incredible intellect with razor sharp wit and a wicked sense of humor. I like to think that I have a bit of his humor and wit, but growing up I could not compare. It wasn’t until I went to college that my brother and I actually talked. Before then, honestly, we had nothing in common.

I went to school in Illinois for two years then back home to take care of my grandmother; he had gone to IU to get his Masters then moved to Chicago. We would see each other occasionally on his trips home or holidays. He died at the age of 28, I was 22 and living with my ex-husband starting our life, and soon our family.

The devastation of loosing my brother really did not hit until I got much older and realized how much I regretting not getting to know my own brother better, not spending more time with him. I think of him often and when my best friend and I are in a particularly sarcastic mood I often think how much my brother and best friend would have liked each other – they are so similar.

Before I get too mushy, I’ll be honest and state that there are family members that I choose not to spend time with, yes I know they are family, but what if you really just don’t like each other? I’m not going to name names because that is just rude. And by the way, any of my family that is reading this – it is not you! That’s where I realize that sometimes your family are those that you choose, not born into the bloodline.

Jackie has been my best friend, confidant and sister for – good night, I don’t even know how long! She is my family. My son’s dad, Jeff, is my family. We divorced over a decade ago and have developed a friendship that is unbreakable. It is based on our shared love for our son but a mutual respect has grown that makes us close friends. We are better today than we could have ever been married. These two are my family that I choose. These are two that I would lay down my life for and do anything needed to secure their happiness or safety.

When my ex was going through chemotherapy I remember our son asking why I was doing so much for him as we were divorced. I told him because he is family and that is what you do. But that statement is not completely accurate. Because it is okay to say no to family, it is not an unwritten rule that you must sacrifice everything for everyone.

That last statement seems a bit unclear, let me put it a little more bluntly: just because your slacker relative asks you to do something for them do not feel as though you are obligated to do it. You must regain respect for yourself and be able to say no. Here’s the thing, there are people, family or not, that will ask you to do everything for them but are unwilling to do for themselves. If they were not blood would you still feel the obligation to do something for them? Probably not. When you think about the people that you would do anything for at any time without any question then you have found the family that you choose to be a part of your life

Just because you are family does not give that person the right to disrespect you and expect to take advantage of you then lay the guilt “family” card on you. That’s wrong. It is okay to say no to family, I give you permission. Laugh if you will, but if you have never given yourself permission to say no maybe you need someone’s permission to do so – so you have mine.

Is a family member is job searching and they keep demanding of you to make introductions, calls or even get them a job where you work? What if you do make those introductions and they don’t follow up? What if you continually try to help but they are not putting any effort into their job search? Those are all demanding and disrespectful acts committed against you and honestly, you have the right to say stop. You have the right to not help them get on at your company especially if they have a bad attitude or solid streak of getting fired. Why have that poor reflection on you? Let go of the guilt.

The choices you make reflect the respect that you have for yourself. If you are allowing a family member to manipulate you then your self-respect is at a low. If a family member asks me to help I will to the best of my ability; however, if I feel uncomfortable in doing so or the tasks are taking advantage of me I respect myself enough to say no. I lost the guilt. If they want to use that as a Hatfield and McCoy type grudge, well so be it. Resect yourself which in turn will allow others to respect you.

Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW
Certified Professional Resume Writer
Transition Strategist
Career Polish, Inc.
www.CareerPolish.com