Do You Lead or Check Boxes?


One of my paramount fundamentals in working with clients is expressing their value.


It is not enough to tell people that you have a skill set, been in your industry x number of years or have a certain title – what matters is the value you bring.


Imagine two candidates both with similar experience and skill sets.  Imagine having a meeting, whether it is a interview or client meeting and you ask them (or think of when reading their resume/LinkedIn/bio): “Tell me about working at XYZ Company.”


Candidate A responds: “I’m a manager there overseeing a team of five and work with clients in managing their financial assets.”


Candidate B responds: “I partner with, mentor and lead a team of five in bringing information, security and planning to our clients in all aspects of their finances from identifying their needs and goals, researching options, opportunities and challenges to strategically planning out short term and long term plans, goals and action steps.  We then maintain constant communication within the team and with our clients to ensure we hit our marks and have earned a great reputation of success and trust which merited 65% of all our new clients are referrals from current clients.”


Candidate A basically told you their title, but nothing else.


Candidate B told not only told you they are a manager but gave you insight as to how they manage their people and their clients.  They expressed their value: a mentor and team leader to their team; focused and dedicated to their clients and gave me some proof in the pudding.


Your value sets you apart from everyone else, it gets you noticed and bottom line – it gets you hired.


You need to answer the question of value before they ask.  If Candidate A told me that I would pretty much be done with the conversation.  They did not bring anything to the table enough to peak my interest to ask them more.  Remember, you want my business or for me to hire you – it is your job to excite me about you as a candidate; not for me to dig it out of you.


If I was speaking to Candidate B I would definitely want to ask more.  They sold themselves without being cocky or expecting me to be able to read between the lines.


It is the natural mindset of an interviewer – no matter a potential boss or client – to be skeptical.  The example I give my clients is if you are in sales and state that you were second in the district the immediate internal thought by the potential boss/client is “what, out of three?”


They are bombarded with candidates and so many candidates misrepresent themselves that it is no wonder that the potentials are skeptical.  They are overwhelmed.  The last thing you want them to do is think, because they more than likely take it to a negative place.  Sell your value not your title.


You might notice Candidate B’s answer is quite a bit longer without trying to infuse hot key words.  Also, it would be very easy to assume Candidate A is a box checker and Candidate B is a leader.   He/she didn’t say it – they demonstrated it.


There are two reasons why you do not communicate your value: either you don’t know how or you don’t add any.


No value: starting with a title and ending with duties.


Value: Start with the result of what you do and work backward.  How do people benefit from what you do leads to how you do it.  That is how you express your value.


If you are still struggling on how to identify and express your value I just happen to know someone that can help you with that… me!


Ok, shameless little plug, sorry.



Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Career Coach-Strategist

Certified Professional Resume Writer

Career Polish, Inc.


3 Things Not to Say Once You Have Started the New Job

not listening

Normally I talk about looking for and securing a job, but today I want to take a moment to give a gentle reminder of a few things you should not say after you land that job.


“That’s not how we did it at ______” (fill in the blank with your old company)


Guess what – you aren’t there any more and no one here cares how they did it there.  This is a clear sign that you are not willing to learn or be part of a new team.  Say this and you will create your own little island isolating yourself from everyone in the new company.


Instead, try saying “This is completely different than what I was used to; I’m excited to learn a new way.”


“That’s not my job”


Get over yourself.  You are on a new team and sometimes you have to do things outside of the scope of your “job description”.  Let’s take this back a step – how often does the job description match 100% of what the real job duties actually are…..exactly.


Suck it up cupcake and stop brooding and take this as an opportunity to see if you can learn something new, meet new team members or get a glimpse of something outside of your job scope.  By the way, nothing is beneath you.  I’ve served coffee, run errands and done dishes and had people tell me that I shouldn’t be doing that because I was the manager.  I was also a team member and if that is what needed to be done and I was available then I had no problem helping where I could.


Instead try saying, “I would be happy to help.”


“I don’t know, you will have to ask someone else.”


Way to be a supportive team player!  Why not just add on the end of that “and I don’t care”?  Whether it is how to run the copier to how to utilize systems or protocols it is an opportunity to do two things: help someone and learn something.


Instead try saying, “I’m sorry, I don’t know but that is a great question,  however (a) great question, let’s see if we can ask Mary/find someone who knows so we can both learn (b) I can help you find someone who knows more about this than I do: or (c) I don’t know but I will find out for you and get back to you.”


If it is running some contraption at work, you never know when you might need to know how to do that task one day.  If someone is coming to you as a resource answer (c) makes you even more of a valuable resource.  No matter what the situation you will build good working relationships with your team members by being available.


Starting a new job can be a little intimidating and scary and sometimes our natural reaction is to drawn within ourselves, not admit we don’t know something or are afraid to look foolish by not having the same skill set.


Give yourself a break and remain open.  Instead of looking at everything as a challenge or task, try looking at it as an opportunity.  There are opportunities abound to learn, grow and be a more valuable team member.  They just might be the things that take you from the start within a new company to the next level within that company.



Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Career Coach-Strategist

Certified Professional Resume Writer

Career Polish, Inc.



Getting Back To Basics

All About Me - Career Polish Inc.

Last week I had the privilege of speaking to a wonderful group about job searching, resumes, interviewing and networking.  I asked the group leader if there was any point in particular that he wanted me to focus on as there is only so much we can cover in one session.


He said he felt many people were frustrated and had been at it awhile so maybe something about getting back to the basics.


My first thought was the basics of the resume: function, form, message etc and possibly getting back to the basics of networking.


When I let it sink in, the terms of “getting back to” I realized I needed to go back to the very beginning.


Not the last job, the last degree, the last networking meeting; the very beginning: the mindset.


That is where it all starts.


I am always surprised at how many people looking to get hired for the right job introduce themselves as either their title or what they used to do.  Similarly, those looking to get hired by the right client introduce themselves as their title or their company.


I have said it before and I will say it again (many, many times):


You are not your title.

You are not your company

You are not a process or widget.


You are a person offering value and solutions.


That, kids, is the basics.


What is your value, what solutions do you offer?


In the meeting when I explain this I got a lot of nods in agreement which then turned to deer in the headlight looks when I passed out 3×5 cards and asked them to write at the top “I am” and complete it without the use of a title or job, only their value.


Oh sure, it all sounds like fun and games until someone makes you do something about it.


Once you have the I am statement, go back and look at your resume and see if it really supports what you wrote.  Check your networking speeches, too.


Then, to really mix things up, I asked them to think about what they really want to do: what is that ideal position and contribution they could be making.


Then really own it, see yourself in this role.  As such, what suggestions would you have to someone looking to obtain this position in terms of steps they could take.  Perhaps it is rewriting your resume, joining certain community or networking groups, brushing up on one skill set – what are some tangible steps that someone should do to reach your level.


Then pick one and do it.


That’s right – hold yourself accountable.


But here is the rub – only list four or five things – and stay flexible.


Rewrite your resume and be open to whom to submit it.

Rework your networking speech and adapt it for each situation.

Engage with new people and be open for new connections.


When we put ourselves in the position of thinking as if we have already achieved this goal our actions and non-actions align with it.  The non-actions are things like our body language and our confidence.


If you keep saying to yourself, “I’ll never find the right job” or “every time I apply I get rejected” then guess what – you are writing your own path.


Start by seeing yourself in that position and tell yourself, “I am the VP of Product Development for a small start up bringing new ideas, new clients and a great revenue stream while providing a great advantage for our clients.”


Then notice how things will begin to change.  You will stand a little straighter, sound more confident and start meeting the people that get you to that position.


Let me break it down to the basics: if you can’t see it and be it you won’t achieve it.



Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Career Coach-Strategist

Certified Professional Resume Writer

Career Polish, Inc.



Don’t Craft Your Resume Like an Online Singles Profile

Computer FlowersAbout me: Hard working, honest, trustworthy, simple person looking for someone who can have fun, go to a ballgame or dress up for dinner; no drama from past relationships or relationships that are not fully over; must be open, honest, trustworthy, genuine, love family, having fun and being affectionate. Blah, blah, blah….


Likes: Long walks on the beach, spontaneous outings, holding hands, great conversation


Looking for: Friendship with possible long-term if it is the right connection, let’s meet soon and see if the sparks fly!


I have a friend that joined an online dating service.  The above pretty much summarizes about 90% of what she has seen so far.


First of all – no one is buying any of this.

Second of all – it really says nothing.

Lastly – really?  This is the best you could come up with -the same as 9 out of 10 others?


And stop putting a picture that you took of yourself in the bathroom!


Your resume is not a personal ad, it is not about what you are looking for and will make you happy.  It is a sales statement to be focused on the employer answering the question what can you do for me.


Starting off your resume with a summary that is close to: “Looking for an opportunity with a progressive company to lend my talents and abilities to help them grow” is following the personal ad tactic.


No one is buying it

It really doesn’t say anything.

They don’t care what you want.


Look at it from the employer’s perspective: why would they want to read your resume and how are you going to generate enough interest to have them pick up the phone?


Focus on them.  What needs or challenges do they have and how can you solve them.  Explain how you have done this in the past to show a pattern of consistency.  Utilize demonstrative statements to tell not only what you did but how you did it, who you worked with and the results you achieved.


Revamping your resume away from the personal ad will take you from lonely single to happily employed!



Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW


Wanting What They Have

resume (2)

I have heard it more than once from job seekers that they do not understand why someone else with comparable experience got a job that they wanted.


They had the same type of jobs, same type of responsibilities and yet the other person was snatched up and they are still looking for their next job.


Why?  If on paper they are the same why is it that they were not selected?


This is where I can use quotes to help illustrate a point, and here is one of my favorite:


“Two men looked out from prison bars; one saw the mud, the other saw stars.” Dale Carnegie


It is not necessarily the experience, rather how you present it.


To you previous positions could have just been a job.  But to the candidate selected their either learned something from it or were able to contribute value.


Remember two important factors in job searching:


Employers want to know what you can do for them.

Past success is an indicator of future success.


If you are portraying your past positions as space on your resume you are not proving giving prospective employers the one thing they are looking for: proof.


Proof of success and proof that you can bring immediate value to them.


The first thing you need to do is change your thinking about your present and past.  Stop looking at them as a waste of your time or ability and look at them as opportunities to prove yourself.  Ask yourself:


What did I learn?

How did I contribute?

How did I grow?

Who did I serve?

How did I serve them?

How was I able to do my job better/different than my peers?

What did I do that will help me in my next position?


Once you start finding the value then write your history toward your future.  Use those key items that are important for that next position when describing your past responsibilities.  For example, if in the next position that you are targeting it is important to have good communication skills find examples that demonstrate you utilized your skills in the past.


Tell the story potential employers are looking for and you will be the one that grabs their attention.



Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW