How To Use “I Don’t Know” In An Interview To Convey 5 Positive Business Attributes

It’s okay to say “I don’t know.” Sometimes it is better than okay, it is absolutely the right thing to do. Trying to come up with (or fake) an answer can be unintentionally amusing, or it can be be detrimental to your career.

Recently, I got a funny instead of an “I don’t know” A little TMI warning – I’m exploring HRT. I was given a new script and asked the pharmacist what’s the problem of too much estrogen and how will I know. His answer:

“You cry a lot.”

Oh my. He was serious. I thought it was hilarious, thought I don’t know that anyone else would have thought so. I have a weird sense of humor. Maybe next time an I don’t know followed by check with your doctor, let me ask, let me look it up…. anything really.

I used to be afraid of admitting that I didn’t know something. I was told it was a sign of weakness. How can anyone take you as an authority, a leader, if you don’t know the answers.

The problem was, I’m not good at faking. But I was good at learning. So I decided if I was going to be seen as an unauthoritative weak leader, I was at least going to be helpful.

I learned to say, “I don’t know, but I will find the answer.”

Do you even realize how powerful that statement is?

It’s liberating!

It freed me from trying to be perfect or something I wasn’t. I did not have to meet some unrealistic expectation.

And the lucky break! I would get excited because I saw it as a golden opportunity to learn something new. I love learning. Phyllis Diller attributed her longevity and success partially to learning something new every day.

You are never so far advanced in your career that you know everything and no longer need to learn.

To anyone who is like I was, afraid to admit not knowing something, either in an interview or early in your career, I say:

Don’t be.

Here’s something that will take this liberating phrase up a notch to make it even more powerful. I wish I would have figure this out back then… Here how “I don’t know” can be a positive differential in your interview.

Don’t say you will learn or find the answer. Prove it.


Use an example. There is some time in your past you did not know something you needed to know. How did you find it out, how did you solve the challenge, how did you win over that problem?

A solid example with a positive result will prove at least five positive attributes:

  1.  Credibility – backing up your words with demonstrated past action
  2.  A problem solver – able to discover or use resources to find a solution
  3.  Self-aware – willing to admit when they don’t know something
  4.  A go-getter – willing to go after the next step, or create it
  5.  A self-starter – able to craft a solution

There is one slight ring of truth to the don’t know equals a weakness – if it stops at “I don’t know.” If you don’t go beyond, prove your power, and learn from it then yes, “I don’t know” can be seen as a weakness.

You are a lot more powerful that you give yourself credit. Amp it up by admitting you don’t know then ferociously go after that knowledge. What a rush of satisfaction to learn something new!

With my last I don’t know I did learn the symptoms and some interesting alternatives. What’s the last fun thing you learned from an “I don’t know” moment?


As a triple certified as a Professional Resume Writer, Career Coach and Social Media Brand Analyst I help amazing professionals get career happy.

Click here – – to find out more.


Resumes & Interviewing – What To Do With That Wackadoodle Job

I have purple hair. Wasn’t supposed to, didn’t mean to – but there it is. It is a lovely combination of deep lavender melded within dark silver…

Whatever. You can put a pig in Armani and it’s still a pig.

My hair is purple.

It’s about now that one of my favorite sayings comes into play: failure isn’t fatal. Winston Churchill, Mike Ditka, and Don Shula said some version of this, but the bottom line is the same:

Failure isn’t fatal.

This is not fatal. Now I find it hysterical. Because it freaked Chief out.

I have long hair and a boyfriend who really likes my long hair and really, really likes it blonde.

When he first saw it, I can’t count the number of “𝘖𝘏. 𝘔𝘠. 𝘎𝘖𝘋. 𝙬𝙝𝙖𝙩 𝙝𝙖𝙥𝙥𝙚𝙣𝙚𝙙???” that came out of him. It’s 𝙢𝙮 𝙝𝙖𝙞𝙧 but he’s the one having a meltdown. One more guy thing I don’t understand.

But I digress.

My point was this isn’t going to kill me. No mistake or failure is really can’t be classified as a failure if you learn from them.

What I have learned – some people aren’t the best with toners and my hair really takes to purple and not in a pretty purple sort of way.

So what does purple hair have to do with careers and resumes? Don’t freak out over your purple hair position. Temporary purple hair is your wackadoodle job.

Maybe somewhere in your career, you had a job that made absolutely no sense to your career. It was a filler or a mistake. Whatever it was, you feel like it is the pink elephant in the middle of your resume or in your interview.

It’s not.

There is something to be learned or gained from every single position that you take. You learned or reinforced a skill. Discovered something new. That discovery doesn’t have to be positive. You may have learned that you really, really don’t like that industry or type of position. That’s still learning something.

Now take it to the next level. If you learned you didn’t like a certain aspect or job, turn it into a positive. It pushed you to dive into another aspect, more education, training, or something that was a better fit.

Spinning the experience to a positive show maturity and intelligence. That is something an employer wants to see and hear.

Pretty much everyone has had a weird job that made no sense, was a disaster or a mistake. And pretty much everyone survives from them. It’s all in your perception and what you choose to do with the experience.

Have some fun with it. The more positive and light you can be about it, the less it will concern others.

For me, I’ve got a couple weeks before my next speaking engagement… I may let the purple reign just to torture Chief a bit longer. That’s not too mean, give me a break here, I’ve got to have some fun with this purple hair!


As a triple certified as a Professional Resume Writer, Career Coach and Social Media Brand Analyst I help amazing professionals get career happy.

Click here – – to find out more.

No, I’m not kidding, there is more than one type of cover letter

I literally said this to someone at the gym the other morning.

Perhaps not the way I would normally respond, but give me a break, it was early. Chief somehow gets us to the gym in the ungodly hour of 5 am so I wake up sometime around 6ish on a treadmill.

The guys at the gym know what I do. Not that they asked me. They asked Chief.  It’s the southern manners, they often talk to the man instead of the woman.

It’s very interesting, especially for someone not from the south. The closest I get to being a Southern Belle is Carol Burnett’s Scarlette.

On this day, Chief was out of town so it was just me. Somehow, a couple of the guys were talking about early retirement, changing jobs, job searching – you know, stuff up my alley. Then I hear one tell the other that it’s good for him to keep his resume updated all the time (true) but not to worry about a Cover Letter, they’re dead.

Wait. What?

Now boys, I appreciate the southern charm, I really do. However, that advise is as useful as a steering wheel on a mule. And you’re fixin’ to get me riled up.

Too late, riling happened. I had to interject. Because, you know, this is what I do….

Now if you think a couple of good ol’ boys are going to believe a girl who’s just about knee-high to a duck just because she said so well then you’ve only got one oar in the water.

So after the above mentioned “No, I’m not kidding” I did convince them (and educate a little) with some Q&A:

Q: What if you saw a position posted and they asked for a cover letter? Oh, well yeah…
A: That’s right, you would have to write a Traditional Cover Letter, which targets a specific job in a company.

Q: What if you were referred to send your resume to someone in the company? Uh, the same thing?
A: Just about, just a tiny technicality in calling it a Referral Cover Letter which mentions the person who referred you.

Q: Now, what if you wanted to be proactive in your job search and reach out to a company, companies in an industry or an entire region to discover a position that isn’t even posted yet, create enough interest that one is created for you or make such an impression that they refer you to a hidden opportunity – meaning hardly any competition? You can do that?
A: You betcha! It’s called a Value Proposition Letter, which is a crisp, focused letter demonstrating your value. There are versions to this, with minor differences:
– A letter of interest – written without a specific job in mind to a specific company.
– A broadcast letter – written without a specific job to several employers in a targeted sector.
– A prospecting letter – without a specific job to a smaller, more targeted audience.

Q: Okay, lastly, what if you wanted to do something new but didn’t know anything about it so you wanted to reach out to someone to get their advice on how to get into their industry, find out more about what the position is like or even what else you can do once you get into it? I don’t know
A: Another letter – or email – but this time it’s a Networking Letter. You’re basically asking for an Informational Interview to get their advice or gather information about a position, industry or your job search.

My good deed and workout were done for the day.

Oh, and don’t think these things are just thrown together haphazardly. Oh no, each letter is thoroughly researched, targeted and meticulously crafted for the most impact. The most impactful and successful Value Proposition Letters are no more than 150 words – total!

Some hiring managers and recruiters may take the side of the gym boys saying the Cover Letter is dead. It may be in their eyes. But not for everyone.

I know many decision makers across multiple industries that do read the Cover Letters. Some read it before the resume and use it as a deciding factor if they want to read the resume. Some read after the resume as a test to make sure the person sounds the same in both.

Across our industry, it is generally accepted that on the low end, at least 60% of jobs are hidden – meaning they aren’t advertised. Think about it for a minute, how often do you hear or know of when a position needs to be filled, internally you hear those four little words, “do you know anyone…”?

This is why networking and hidden job market strategy using Value Proposition Letters are so amazing. They get results.

Every piece of communication is an opportunity for you to expand your network, cement your brand and open doors. Why would you turn that down? The person on the other side of the desk can choose not to read that letter, but wouldn’t you rather have it and not need it than need it and not have it?

Of course, I guess if someone doesn’t want to make the most of every possible opportunity, they have their reasons, bless their little heart.


Has one of these letters been successful for you? Bonus question – I had a lot of fun with the southern sayings in this – I think “bless their heart” is still my favorite. What’s your favorite or one that you don’ hear anymore? 

As a triple certified as a Professional Resume Writer, Career Coach and Social Media Brand Analyst I help amazing professionals break out of a suffocating corporate existence and get happy in their career.

I’m the career alchemist – I turn job lead into career gold!

Click here – – to find out more about we can work together to get you career happy.

Your resume is a persuasive conversation – why aren’t you doing the talking?

I heard Tony Robbins say, and I’m going to paraphrase, that it is vital to know your desired outcome before you have a conversation. That way you can guide it to what you want and maximize your time. A few intents can be to inform, convey, or persuade.

Sounds like a resume to me.

Inform the reader of your qualifications, convey your value and persuade them to set up an interview.

Your resume is that initial conversation. Unfortunately, I see too many people figuratively standing in front of your target (your resume) but not doing any talking.

Let’s discover the three biggest challenges that hold most people back and get rid of that block right here and now.

Challenge 1 – Too much information

Do you know if you search for “how to write a resume” on Google, you will get 381,000,000 results in .55 seconds? I did it. Here’s my screenshot:

google search write a resume - lisa k mcdonald

That’s way too much information to read. Beyond that, I’ll bet you dollars to donuts that it is mostly contradictive. One article says to do this, another says oh no, do the opposite. It’s just too much. And no, the irony of me saying that in an article about writing your resume is not lost on me.

Step away from the research.

Challenge 2 – Talk yourself out of it

I call this the lack of permission. Let me explain.

You see, you know what you need to write.

Yes, you do.

No really, I’ll prove it to you. Answer the following questions out loud:
• What will you be doing?
• How will it impact a business, team, client base?
• What are the skills necessary to do this job?
• Can you do or have you done these things for a positive outcome?
• Prove it.

That right there – the prove it, that is important. If you were to prove it to me, you would be telling me a story demonstrating your skills, experience and results.

Don’t you think that would persuade or convince a reader that you have the necessary skills? Possibly persuading them to have another conversation?

Here is where the permission comes into play. Generally, people are afraid to write down the conversation we just had above. They say things like:
• It doesn’t sound right for a resume.
• It sounds too informal.
• They don’t know ‘resume’ words
• It’s not what they are used to.

They talk themselves out of using the good stuff because it feels different.

Let me help you with this.

It is different. And by the way, normal person, you don’t write resumes every day. How do you know what it should sound like, feel like or look like? You don’t. (I say normal person because, well, have you ever met a group of people like me? We’re definately unique in that we really like writing resumes! We know that isn’t normal, but we love it anyway!)

Oh wait, all your research tells you…. Yes, I know. But get out of your head for a minute. Remember, step away from the research. Engage more than that one section of your brain.

Tell me if you have ever thought or muttered this phrase (or something similar), “if I can just get in front of someone, I have no problem talking about/selling myself”.

If so, then you are only giving yourself permission to have that conversation during an interview, not the resume. But guess what, if they don’t know it in the resume, why would they want to set up an interview?

I am officially eliminating that excuse. I hereby give you permission as a Certified Professional Resume Writer, Certified Social Brand Analyst and Certified Career Coach.

Don’t wait for the interview. Prime the pump, get them excited – tell them what you want them to know!

Just do it!

You need to set that stage – tell them how you are the answer to their problem. Set the foundation in their mind of you, your value, your brand, your voice. Don’t waste this opportunity to tell them what they need to hear because you’re afraid of telling them what you want them to know.

Challenge 3 – They may not like it

You’re right. Some people are not going to like what you put together. I’ve been doing this for over a decade and I still can’t please every reviewer, recruiter, HR person or Great Aunt Gertrude every single time.

Some people like one page, others like three, some hate Times New Roman, others scoff at Calibri, some like visuals, others think they are distracting, there is too much information, not there isn’t enough, it should be pink, it should be red, no it should be a freankin’ rainbow…sorry, I digressed into Alex’s speech on Greys’ in planning the prom.

The point is, no, not everyone is going to like it. The point of that is good. You want it to appeal to the people and company cultures that are most like you or that are best in supporting your growth and value. Not every company is a good fit for you.

Let your value and brand shine through in your resume to do some pre-screening of companies that either don’t deserve you or are a bad fit for you.

You have permission, you know what you want to tell them – now go have some fun with it!

What challenges do you face in trying to put together your resume or LinkedIn profile? 



As a triple certified as a Professional Resume Writer, Career Coach and Social Media Brand Analyst I help leaders break out of a suffocating corporate existence and into a position and place that renews their brilliance. I get people unstuck and gain momentum in their careers.
Click here – – to find out more about we can work together to get you moving forward.

What Snow In Vegas Has To Do With Your Job Search

I’d never been to Vegas, only flown over the Grand Canyon and never seen Red Rock. So to say I was excited to see these on our anniversary trip would have been an understatement. Not only would I get to see some of the most beautiful nature this country has to offer but it would be warm.

I’m over the cold, I’m over the snow, the ice. The frigid temperatures. Dressing in layers. I’m over the whole winter thing. I can’t stand cold. Going to Nevada in February, where it was supposed to be warm, sunny and no winter in sight.

That was the plan at least. But then there was snow. In Vegas. For the first time in over a decade. Seriously? Who would think they need hats, boots, coats and layers in Vegas??

We did.

The really crappy weather could have ruined our trip. We heard plenty of people complaining about it. Instead, it was one of the best trips we’d ever had.

Because we used our superpower.

The things that most people complained about were actually the benefits. That was the superpower in action: seeing the negative as a positive.

Because of the snow, cold, and rain most people stayed away. We nearly had all the landmarks to ourselves. At the Skybridge at the West Rim of the Grand Canyon, the guide told us they normally get over 4,000 people a day. But with the weather that week, they hadn’t even come close to cracking 1,000.

Red Rock
Enjoying the beauty and solitude of Red Rock Canyon
  • Joining us at Red Rock were a handful of serious hikers. Other than that, we were able to be fully immersed in the Canyon and its beauty.
  • Hoover Dam was relaxing going at our own pace without being herded in a crowd.
  • The strip – nearly a ghost town! We had the over-the-street crosswalks and escalators to ourselves. We found a table immediately at the Eataly. Front row for the Bellagio fountains show with no one sharing our space. Anything you wanted to play in any location was completely open.

It was wonderful. We checked things off our bucket list. Chief got to enjoy a 2+ hour tour and see the first Shelby ever built and I got to be fully immersed, nearly in complete solitude, in magnificent, inspiring nature.

Everyone has this superpower, sadly we often chose to ignore it. It is easier to complain about a sky full of clouds instead of seeing a single daffodil blooming at your feet. How you perceive the world has a lot to do with what happens in your world.

So how does this help your job search? By redefining how you look at events. Are you letting things happen to you or letting things that happen guide you?

Here is a superpower fine tune that I learned years ago and I still practice today: I get thankful and excited about rejection.

That’s right, I celebrate the no.

Is this crazy, yeah, probably. But it has made such a difference on so many levels that I don’t care about crazy, I go for the feel good.

Here’s how it works. I’m on the phone with a potential client and we decide for whatever reason that it’s not a good fit to work together. After the call, I say out loud “Thank you! Now there is room for my yes .” I consider any type of no as one step closer to something I want to say yes to.

Here’s a superpower view for job search rejection:

  • That job you were rejected for – good thing, they were offering 30% below market salary.
  • The one that never called back – thank goodness, it was a toxic culture that causes a high turnover.
  • The one that you interviewed for several times then nothing – dodged a bullet there my friend. They are on the brink of disaster and going to pin the downfall on the new guy.

All those rejections keep you open to the right thing. It’s coming, it’s out there. Keep doing the smart strategies: networking, customizing resumes to positions, offering value, keeping your ears open, updating your LinkedIn…

Maybe those rejections get you so frustrated that you reach out for help. Maybe it is someone like me or maybe it is a group that meets regularly and offers a full range of support. (If you are in Indianapolis, I highly, highly recommend Passport to Employment as this supportive group).

Without that rejection, you would not have been ‘pushed’ into getting the help that you needed to get the job you wanted.

Seeing a positive or potential opportunity honestly takes a little bit of work. It is a muscle you have to develop and regularly continue to work to make stronger. Start small.

  • Hit every red light? Whew, you probably missed a major back up or that delay got you there just in time for a premium parking space!
  • Can’t take advantage of a great parking space because someone’s hogging two spaces? Won’t he be sorry when, because of his parking style, his car gets swiped and paint chipped – but not yours!

Start using your superpower today even in the smallest of ways and see how the landscape changes for you.


As a triple certified as a Professional Resume Writer, Career Coach, and Social Media Brand Analyst I help amazing people break out of a suffocating corporate existence and into a position and place that renews their brilliance.

Click here – – to find out how I get people unstuck in their careers.

If You Can’t Sell Yourself, How Do You Expect A Recruiter To?

Do you know how many times a recruiter hears, “just get me in, and I can sell myself.”?

A lot.

Hey, I’m all for confidence – more power to you.

This is a BS statement when it is coupled with a resume that doesn’t demonstrate how their qualifications are a solution to that company’s problem. That’s right, I’m immediately throwing the BS flag in this article.

Hey wait a minute, I know what I am worth, I know I’m the solution or savior here, I know how to sell myself – why is that BS?

Because the theory behind this does not jive with the practical application you are employing.

Are you expecting to just have a conversation with the recruiter and they will then translate all your goodness to the prospective employer in order that you will get the interview?

Shame. Shame on you.

You want the recruiter to get you in there, for goodness sake, help them out!
Most recruiters I know are not going to redo your resume, and they shouldn’t. Their time is valuable and their talents aren’t in resumes. It is in matching solutions (you) to problems/needs (their clients – technically their client’s problems or needs).

If your resume doesn’t prove this, odds are you really can’t sell yourself. I’m not trying to be harsh, just help you out.

Your resume is setting the stage. It’s getting the prospective employer to get excited. It’s setting the tone of your brand. If you have a recruiter who can talk you up and get an employer interested, there is going to be a step back when the employer sees that lackluster resume.



If you have the goods (and you do), it should come across in everything about you: your LinkedIn, your resume, your interview – every conversation, everything about you.

The reality is, writing your resume is hard and it sucks.

Holy cow, trying to capture what they want to hear, putting it in a way that doesn’t sound like your bragging, making sure it has the right verbiage – that’s a lot of work. It isn’t done in a day. And it’s not something to overlook or take for granted.

You’ve got to know what is important to that industry or company. What are their challenges? You also have to demonstrate your knowledge, expertise or experience in solving similar problems so they can clearly see that if you have done it before, you are more than likely able to do it again – for them.

Giving your recruiter a plane jane resume then asking them to talk you up is like having your buddy try to set you up with someone you are keen on but don’t give them any selling points. So they end up telling that person that you have a ‘great personality’.

Maybe you do have a great personality, but wouldn’t it be better to tell them that you haven’t missed a single opening day at Wriggly Field if that person is a Cubs fan?

Give your recruiter something to work with – it makes their job easier, which translates to getting you in the door faster. Have a quality resume.

I’m not saying that you have to hire me – I’m not saying not to either. What I am saying is to invest in yourself. If you don’t want to make the financial investment to hire a professional, then make the time investment in yourself.

It’s not just for the recruiter or the employer – it’s for you. It will help you clarify your value and develop those impact stories for the interview or networking. Here’s a little help to give you a head start. An article about the two most important elements that need to be demonstrated in your resume: How to Make Everyone – Including you – Stop Hating Your Resume.

That investment will pay off, in spades. Aren’t you worth it?

End Note: if you have tried to write your resume or realize that you can’t or don’t want to, I do welcome you to check out my business site: Career Polish to find out what it is I do, why I love career branding so much and how I can help you.

As a triple certified as a Professional Resume Writer, Career Coach and Social Media Brand Analyst I help leaders break out of a suffocating corporate existence and into a position and place that renews their brilliance. I get people unstuck in their careers.
Click here – – to find out more about we can work together to get you unstuck

Don’t Let Facebook Ruin A Job Offer

Three people.
All exceptional candidates across talent, energy, ability to provide value. All considered for a position with a high-energy, creative firm. Three people who the executive team was excited about.
Not one got the job.
Three people did not receive a job offer because of their Facebook page.
I’m no Nero Wolfe or Colombo (and if you know who those two are without having to Google it, you’re my kind of person). Yet I – and many others – can do a simple search on Facebook.
One search can ruin all credibility you created.
Poof! Gone.
I am not targeting Millennials. Oh no. This faux pas is for us older generation, too. I’ve got one word for you: politics.
It is not that you post your opinion in this arena. Yay or nay about the current climate makes no difference, you do you.
It’s how you post.
If you are mean, nasty, snotty, inappropriate or just an overall horse’s arse then you are going to be a horse’s arse without a job offer. I would not want to hire anyone to be a part of my team who treats people in this way if they disagree with them.
It’s time to clean up all your social media. It matters. Last year it was reported that 70% of employers used social media to screen candidates (CareerBuilder).
Start with the obvious: delete any questionable, vulgar, or inappropriate photos or posts. Next is anything that would throw you in a different light than what you are presenting during your job search.
Not sure what those are? Think of it this way: before I went to college my dad gave me a piece of advice. When deciding what to do, “Just imagine I am standing right next to you.” Would you say that or behave that way if your parent was standing next to you?
If that doesn’t work for you, how about this: would you talk to your grandmother like that? Or how about, you get the job and that picture is going to be used for all your professional material. Business cards, website bio, team photo. Is that really the one you want the professional world to see?
Ideally, you want to clean social media house before you begin the job search. If you are already in the process please, please, please clean up your social media house tonight!
I do what I love: help professionals break out of a suffocating job existence and into a career that renews their brilliance.
I am triple certified as a Professional Resume Writer, Social Brand Analyst and Career Coach. My clients learn to identify, strengthen and communicate their brand and most importantly – their value – across LinkedIn, resumes, networking, communication, relationship management, presence and influence.
Click here – – to find out more about how we can help you.
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In Exercise and Resumes, You Have to Work Harder To Get Results

how i look when i run

I’m just going to warn you now, there is a bit of TMI in this article. As a professional storyteller, I find a touch of personal or a unique story makes content – and the point I am trying to get across – more relatable.  I apologize if this is more than you wanted to know, but I promise there is a point and a purpose.

Twenty years ago it was perfectly acceptable in your resume to simply list job duties. It was certainly easier. Just copy a job description and plop it right there in the experience section. It was ‘good enough’ to give the reader an idea of the job.

Yeah, well, twenty years ago I didn’t have to work so damn hard to not look like a marshmallow with toothpicks sticking out.

Here’s the problem, I have a tiny frame that is out of proportion. I have the same length of legs as my sister, who was about three inches taller than me. Somehow the DNA scrunched up my middle section. Translation – any time I put any weight on it goes straight to my gut and I look like a marshmallow.

Twenty years ago I could easily get rid of the marshmallow by cutting out the carbs for about a week and adding a bit of running on the treadmill to my walks and I hate running.   All while still pretty much eating anything I wanted. So not healthy.

Not anymore. This isn’t an age thing, although I am closing in on 50. This is a pre-menopause thing. (and….there is the TMI). Interesting fact – during pre-menopause it is notoriously common for women to put on weight and it goes straight to their midsection. Seriously, Mother Nature, that is like a double whammy to me! Good night, haven’t I suffered enough with hot flashes? Apparently not.

Lucky for me, I live with a workout nut. Chief works out two hours a day, six days a week. I now go to the gym every morning at the ungodly hour of 5 am and spend about an hour on the treadmill. I am using HIT to incorporate running. The good news – my legs are amazingly strong and look as good as they did twenty years ago. The bad news, it wasn’t enough. I was less of a marshmallow but still a marshmallow. So with a redesign of my eating habits and cutting out added sugar, I am slowly whittling away the marshmallow and getting healthier.  But I really miss my full-on sweet tea!

It is taking too long and is a heck of a lot more work than it was twenty years ago, but I will get my results.

Now, how the heck does that relate to resumes? Your resume is out of shape. Those job descriptions plopped in there – they just don’t cut it anymore.

Here’s the problem, they tell the reader what you were hired to do, no one cares what you were hired to do. They care about what you did.

What value did or do you bring to an organization? Anyone can claim that they are great at a certain skill, but can you prove it? You have to prove it. People reading your resume are only going to believe about half of what you say, so you darn well better prove it.

Lucky for you, I’m going to give you a workout regime that can turn that marshmallow into a four pack (I don’t have enough midsection for a six-pack, so we are going for a four pack).

Step one – warm-up: Determine what is important to the reader. What are their challenges or goals?


Step two – hours on the resume treadmill: For each bullet, break it down to who you worked with, how you worked with them, what you did and how they benefited.  Now, you will have stories to tell.


Step threeweightlifting: Determine your differentials. What makes you good at what you do? Is it your education, approach, skill set – what makes you better than anyone else in doing what you do? What makes you valuable to an employer?


Step four – cool down: Intersect the answers from step one with the answers to step three and support with the answers in step two.  That is your sweet spot.


Step five – cut the carbs and sugars: Cut, cut, cut your answers. This is what my mentor calls ruthless editing. Anything that is expected, implied or unnecessary – get rid of it. For example “Successfully launched program that generated 25% increase in ….” Get rid of ‘successfully’. It is implied that it is successful by achieving the results.


Step six – add the healthy stuff to your diet: Analyze job postings and descriptions to find keywords. Incorporate those into your resume. Mix it up by using the exact words and using them in context with synonyms. ATS systems either read by content (words specifically) or context (meaning). This means that if a keyword is project management, you can use those specific words for content and use ‘oversaw project….” and the context will understand that it is the same as the keywords even if not exact because oversaw is a synonym of managed. (ATS systems are the computer software that companies use to screen resumes).


Step seven – power up the impact: Front load your bullets to put the most important piece of information first. If you saved 30% in costs by redesigning a process, which is most important for the reader or in demonstrating your differential? Is it the cost reduction or the process improvement? Whichever is most important put it first.


With the work of following these seven steps and your new resume will put your old one to shame and get the healthy results you are looking for in your job search.




A little about me: I do what I love: help professionals break out of a suffocating job existence and into a career, position and place that renews their brilliance.

As the Founder and Principal of Career Polish, Inc., a national career personal branding 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 personal branding as applied to LinkedIn, resumes, networking, communication, relationship management, presence and influence.

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

★ To get all my latest articles, click the “Yes Please!” button on the right ★


The One Question Almost Everyone Asks & Hardly Anyone Answers

Interview - how do they know you are still interested

Building a network, expanding a business, searching for a job or just being neighborly, what is one of the first questions we are asked or ask others?

What do you do?

It seems simple enough and I bet a lot of people would say that they do answer that question. What is your normal response? I’ll bet dollars to donuts it starts with “I’m a …..”

If that is your answer, you are not answering the question. Oh no you are not.

The question is what do you DO, not what is your TITLE.

Titles are boring, snippet summaries. They do not really tell what you do – except in the case of a pediatric neurosurgeon. In that case, yes, it does sum it up nicely.

But for the rest of us not saving the lives of tiny humans, our title does not – or more accurately – should not define us.

What we do is bring value to others in a unique way. It is part of what we are as a person. A title does not reflect a person. It reflects a job.  Many people can have the same title yet be on opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of value, style and ability.

Take me for example. To say I am a resume writer is partially accurate. I do write resumes. I also write LinkedIn profiles. So should I say I am a resume and LinkedIn profile writer? Nope, still just the tip of the iceberg. I also coach and train on networking, leadership, communication, interviewing, negotiation, branding….and let’s not overlook that I do not just work with those who are unemployed. I work with leaders going to the next level, those who want to improve their effectiveness where they are, athletes, coaches, trainers, motivators, entrepreneurs, heads of corporations and more. I build confidence, bring out their inner rock star, support, give a little kick in the toushy when needed, challenge, celebrate… Saying I am a resume writer does not encompass all of that.

Oh, and let’s not forget – there are many others that are resume writers, coaches etc. What makes me different? Well, my work is comprehensive not volume based. I get to know my clients. I don’t rely solely on questionnaires. I really give a damn about my clients and their success. Our work is interactive, they have skin in the game. I am tenacious in getting them to where they want to be. I love what I do and bring fun into the equation. I have real conversations, ask tough questions, support them through the process and the best feeling in the world for me is when someone reads what we have put together and they say, “Holy crap – I’m awesome!”

Replying with “I’m a resume writer” really falls short of all that now doesn’t it?

So what is it that you do? How do you do it better than anyone else? And yes, you do what you do better than anyone else. How? By the way you do the thing you do, maybe by your approach or mindset. Whatever it is that makes you awesome, own it by giving yourself permission to say so. Once you figure that out, NOW you can get down to really answering the question.

So tell me, what do you do?




A little about me: I do what I love: help professionals break out of a suffocating job existence and into a career, position and place that renews their brilliance.

As the Founder and Principal of Career Polish, Inc., a national career personal branding 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 personal branding as applied to LinkedIn, resumes, networking, communication, relationship management, presence and influence.

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

★ To get all my latest articles, click the “Yes Please!” button on the right ★



Don’t Let an Assumption Kill Your Job Search or Its Progress

fender bender


Chief is going to get a new truck because someone is going to hit his.

Let me clarify two things here. First, Chief is the boyfriend. He is a Chief in the Navy hence the moniker.  He has waned back and forth about getting a new truck. It is time for an upgrade, he’s done a lot of research but yet he hasn’t pulled the trigger just yet.  Second, I am not willing or hoping for this accident; I just noticed a pattern and realized someone hitting his truck will be the catalyst in pushing him into that decision.

Every morning we go to the gym at an ungodly hour. On our way back, we pass a school. Sometimes, if we are running a bit late, we pass by when parents are dropping off their kids early. The road in front of the school bends to the left, which takes us back home.  Immediately before the bend is an entrance on the right into the school. Most people leaving this entrance turn left, crossing in front of us.

I noticed almost every single person leaving the school assumes we are turning into the school and therefore whip out in front of us. We have had several near misses. Even using the turn signal indicating we are turning left, they still whip out there. I can understand the assumption as this is not a well-traveled road and most people would assume the only ones on this road are parents or teachers heading to the school.

This is a dangerous assumption and at some point, I am going to look down from the truck and see the hood of a Nissan stuck in my door.

My brother helped me learn how to spell assume with the little tidbit of “never assume, it makes an ‘ass’ out of ‘u’ and ‘me’”. Yes, I know he didn’t make it up himself, but he was my big brother and one of my heroes so I’m giving it to him.

This tidbit got stuck in my head forever. It has helped me beyond remembering how to spell the word, it has been a sage piece of advice.

I normally find I assume in two situations. One, when I am being lazy.  I make a quick evaluation of facts, act quickly to save time and if I was wrong, telling the other person that ‘I just assumed’ is my half-hearted apology.   The second is when I am fearful. I assume I didn’t hear back because they didn’t like me.

Some things I think are in our general nature to assume. Face it, if you see a seven-foot tall man walking down the street – doesn’t the word ‘basketball’ immediately come into your mind?  People make assumptions about me all the time based on my size and height. That’s fine. It’s pretty harmless.

But when you make assumptions during your job search, it can be like looking down at a Nissan buried in your door.

Just because you had a great interview, do not assume you are a shoe-in for the job. Follow up with a thank you maintaining professionalism and interest.  They may be assuming you are no longer interested in the position because you have not expressed a continued interest after the interview.

Just because you have not heard back from the interviewers, do not assume you did not get the job.  There may be an internal snag in the process or the decision makers have to focus on another priority at the moment. You just do not know.  Reach back out respectfully and professionally to remind them of your interest and ask if you can provide any additional information for their consideration.

Just because you landed the job, do not assume that you know everything to know about it. Every job, even if it is a lateral move, is an opportunity for growth and learning. You are the new kid; take a look at this environment with fresh eyes. Take it all in to see where you can improve yourself or the system.

Just because you are not employed, due to termination, downsizing or your choice to leave, do not assume this is a negative for the next employer. Life happens. Companies downsize and people are let go. Sometimes we recognize it was a horrible place to work. As mentioned before, every job is an opportunity. Find the positives in that last one and speak from that perspective. Do not bad-mouth anyone or any company. It comes across as bitter.

Just because you are on either end of the age scale – too young or too old, do not assume you won’t or can’t get hired. Everyone has valuable qualities to bring to an organization. Youth brings fresh perspective, a willingness to learn, adaptability, more of a mindset that anything is possible. Age bring maturity, life experience, ability to stay calm during storms having been through them before and patience. 

Just because you have only done this one thing throughout your career, do not assume you cannot change careers. The skills you developed in that one thing are probably a good match to another field. Take a step back and analyze what it takes to do the new thing. What are the underlying skills needed to complete the tasks? Communication, relationship building, working with cross-functional teams, organization, some financial aspects? Now take a look back at your old thing and see how you used these skills. That is your common denominator and the value you bring to the new field, industry, company.


Give yourself a break. Before you act upon that assumption, take a moment to ask yourself where is it coming from. Is it a bit of slacking or a bit of fear? If either of these are the root cause, take a deep breath and either ask the question or take a more bold action.  This can save you a lot of headache, heartache and damage to your vehicle.




A little about me: I do what I love: help professionals break out of a suffocating job existence and into a career, position and place that renews their brilliance.

As the Founder and Principle of Career Polish, Inc., a national career personal branding 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 personal branding as applied to LinkedIn, resumes, networking, communication, relationship management, presence and influence.

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

★ To get all my latest articles, click the “Yes Please!” button on the right ★