Stop Over-Thinking You

One of the truest quotes is from French philosopher and mathematician Blaise Pascal. Written in 1600’s: “I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time.” This is often attributed to Mark Twain. He did write something similar in 1871: “If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter” History lesson aside, this is a very important concept in communication. Especially your personal brand communication, i.e. your LinkedIn and resume. I am a wordy person in my first drafts. I warn every single client when getting their rough cut that it is long and wordy. I like words. I like embellishing. I like feeling out different words and phrases to get the feel and sense of them. People are natural storytellers, even if they don’t realize it.  They have accomplishments they are rightly proud of.  They like to explain, relive, recreate, and discuss. It’s a feel good and can be a wealth of information. Yet, all my words and people’s stories don’t always meet the needs of the audience: the reader of your profile or resume. The truth is, what you write isn’t about you, it is about them. You are speaking to their need and how you are a solution. All those words and stories don’t mean anything if they don’t prove that you are their solution or savior. That’s why the real fun and love comes in the slashing and dashing. Oh, the joy of taking a draft and cutting, slicing, dicing ruthlessly! It’s a game: how can I say all that the reader needs to hear in as few words as possible? You see, we also need to keep in mind attention spans. No one likes reading long, boring blocks of text. It has to mean something to them or they will gloss over it. This takes me back to my title: stop overthinking you. One of the most powerful and simplest questions I can ask you is: “what do you want your reader to know?” We want simple. Simple is powerful, even simple words can be powerful.  A good example is an amazing executive client of mine. He snatches companies from the jaws of death and jettisons them into industry trendsetters. He would never let me put that in his resume or LinkedIn, it sounds awesome, but too bragging for him (although I will run it by him….). Not my point. He has a hiccup with the word ‘expertise’. The Skills section. Now he’s strong in each one listed, but uncomfortable with that word as a title. He gave a lot of thought to this and was coming up with several phrases as alternatives.  My advice was this: let’s keep it simple. We can use ‘Proficiencies, Qualifications, Key Strengths”.  ATS recognized any of these as headers.  Each is innocuous to the reader which allows them to focus on the words following the title.  Mr. Sullivan gave me a great piece of advice that rings true still today. He was my boss from 20+ years ago and an 86-year-old attorney. His advice: “KISS: keep it simple stupid”. Tell them what you want them to know about what they need to hear.

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As an award winning, published, Resume Writer, Career & Business Coach, I help amazing people get career happy and companies stay true to brand.

Click here – CareerPolish.com – to find out more.

All opinions and views are my own (unless attributed). They are also normally spot and have a touch of humor because I’m obsessive about career topics and my dog thinks I’m hilarious, not just his meal ticket.

Throwaway Resumes Don’t Give a Reason to Care

I have the blessing and curse of being the blunt one in the family.

Thus, my lifelong lessons in communication balancing blunt with tact, effective with clear, empathy with accountability.

It is a driving factor in being a Career Coach and Resume Writer. I love positively challenging people to think differently and remove their blocks through words, storytelling, and the unexpected.

Bluntness is a great tool to craft a powerful brand and career story. Because it gives you the reader’s bottom line question: “Why do I care?”

The reader is the hiring manager, recruiter, etc.

This question can sound short or even rude. But there is something worse.

All too often, the reader throws away your resume without even asking this question. They cut through all the minutia, ending the review with an “I don’t care.”  

That’s worse.

Your resume is about them. Their challenges, problems, and goals – and how you are a solution to their critical needs. This is your focus.

Put another way: it’s not what you want to tell them, it’s telling them what they need to know.  Stick to the parts of the story that are relevant for them.

Do you know a bad storyteller? Someone who insists on peppering a 30 second story with unimportant, mindless details that drags it to a 5 minute story? All the while you’re screaming in your head: “cut to the chase!” – yeah, that’s how they feel reading a resume with every detail of each job from day one. They just don’t care.

Here’s how you change that attitude: write to what is important to them. Be clear, be direct, be demonstrative, be the solution.

The reader cares only when what is in your resume directly relates to them.

Be kind to your reader – and get an interview – by being rude to your resume. Splice it down to the critical “this is why you should care because it makes your life easier.”

Or, send that fully loaded resume and risk the reader saying “I don’t care” and missing out on a call.

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As an award winning, published, Resume Writer & Career Coach I help amazing people get career happy.

Click here – CareerPolish.com – to find out more.

All opinions and views are my own (unless attributed). They are also normally spot and have a touch of humor because I’m obsessive about career topics and my dog thinks I’m hilarious, not just his meal ticket.

Do you know why no one calls you for an interview? You’re telling them not to.

Not you directly, but you in your resume. You’ve trapped it in a vicious politeness cycle. It all starts with not being able to take a compliment and ends in sabotaging yourself in your resume.

All because you are too polite.

This is a unique politeness. It is an extreme avoidance to bragging. This politeness is exhibited in many ways, such as:

  • Using your job description as bullet points.
  • Your opening tells the reader what you want.
  • There is no substance to the information.

You are playing it safe and describing why you were hired. You are also being a bit admirable in not wanting to be a braggart.

Yet the problem with this avoidance behavior, this politeness is this:

No one cares what you were hired to do – they care what happens when you do it.

You’re right about bragging, it isn’t the way to go either. Here’s the problem with that: :

No one is going to believe what you say because you said so – you have to prove it.

If you can’t brag and you can’t be too polite, then what do you do?

Tell your story.

Learning to tell your story solves both problems – and it opens the door to interviews.

A Crash Course In Storytelling

Every good story has an arc. Good arcs have certain elements: set up, action, highlights, failures, corrections, resolution. A good story gives the reader something that intrigues them, piques their curiosity, excites them. It make them want to keep reading and find out how the story ends.

A good story resonates with the reader because something within the story resonates with them.

Your resume stories should align with what is important to your reader. Don’t write for you, write for them. To do this, you need to do a bit of research. What is important to the position, team, customers, industry, company, etc.? This is the THEM FACTOR.

Generate excitement and keep them hooked in the story with framing. Use the parameters of that ideal job as your framework. This further entrenches you in the mind of the reader.

What is the bottom-line purpose of the job? How is success in this measured? What actions do you take to achieve this bottom line? How do you prove excellence in those actions? What are the most important skills you must possess and be able to master? This is the DETAIL FACTOR.

Now you have the framework to write those stories. And all the components to get to an interviewer.

Story Building Steps

Remember the THEM FACTOR? That is how you will frame your story – starting with the most important part to the reader.

Step 1. Give a basic sketch of the situation.

Let’s say you were hired to increase the number of email subscribers for an online platform. Some of the things you did were:
– research what was working in the industry, what wasn’t
– analyze the current system
– work with Marketing to understand how the collected information would be used
– use a new software to redo the process
and you increased the subscriber base 15% in 30 days.

Step 2. Prioritize

Great, now you have good baseline story elements. When writing ot the sketch, lead with what is most important to your reader. What do they value the most?

  •  The software you used
  • Your problem-solving ability
  • Your teamwork (with Marketing)
  • Your research and analyzing skills
  • The number increased or the time

Depending on their priorities, this can start in many different ways:

  • Increased subscribers 15% in 30 days…..
  • Resolved longstanding problem….
  • Modernized process integrating ABC software to…
  • Coordinated with Marketing….

In the next step, the DETAIL FACTOR comes into play.

Step 3. Fill in the blanks

There are two parts to knowing what to fill in the blanks with: skills and attributes.

Skills

The details contain the hard and soft skills. These are the keywords you want to incorporate into your resume to pass the ATS system. ATS is Applicant Tracking Software, the scanner used by over 90% of Fortune 500 companies to parcel resumes. It eliminates nearly 75% of candidates because they don’t match the job.

Attributes

Read the job description again after discerning the hard and soft skills desired. Read it this time just to get a feel. Research the company. In all your research, what is the feel you get for the company? Do they value community involvement? Do they encourage growth? Are they excited to do what they do? What’s their vibe? What kind of people are looking for? Does this jive with you?

Fill in your story using descriptor words that match both you and their energy, feel, or vibe. Done authentically and your resume will attract the human reader after it passes the ATS.

When a person reads a story that
– has meaning to them (aligns with job)
– captivates them (details the skills/attributes they want in a candidate) and
– delivers a satisfying conclusion (result)
They’ll call the hero of that story for an interview.

The End.

 

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As excited as you get in getting the call, that’s how excited I am in telling your story. If you need help telling your story, reach out. I would love to help you tell your story the way you want it known to get you where you want to be.

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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 – CareerPolish.com – to find out more.

Or click here  – Consultation – to schedule your free 30 minute conversation.

Does Your Resume Pass This Two-Word Test?

One of the biggest mistakes I see on resumes – from college graduates to CEOs -is that their resume, and specifically the statements therein, fail a simple two-word test.

So what?

If the reader asks that question after reading your summary – fail.

If the reader asks that question after reading your bullet points – fail.

It’s so easy to fail this test when we start with the wrong information and wrong mindset.

The information is your job description.
The mindset is footnoting your past.

No one cares what you were hired to do, they care what happens when you do it.

• Hired to recreate distribution list. – So what?
• Increased subscribers by 5,000 by updating distribution list with XYZ technology. – Value delivered.

How do you transform a so what statement into a value statement? Ask a few questions and write forward.

A few questions.

Why did you do this task? How did you complete the task (what skills, technology, attributes did you use)? Who did you work with and how? What were the benefits or results of you completing this task?

Detail out the information for these questions, dig deep, gather as much as you can.

Put the story together about this task, assignment or project.

Write forward.

Write to where you want to go translating the information in a meaningful way to the reader.

What is most important to the reader? Is it your problem-solving skills? Is it increasing the number of subscribers? Is it working on or leading a team?

Whatever is most important to the reader of your resume is your guide to detailing your information.

  • Problem solving: “Removed longstanding roadblock to distribution list by solving..”
  • Subscribers: “Increased subscribers by 5,000 in only 30 days by….”
  • Leading a team: “Pulled team together and guided …..”

Start with the wow then follow with the how.

Your resume isn’t about you, it’s about the reader. To grab and keep their attention you must answer their most important question:

“What’s in it (hiring you) for me?”

 

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If your resume doesn’t excite you, sound like you or represents the you that is going places, let’s talk. I want you to discover the you that is hidden and position you to move forward in your career.

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 – CareerPolish.com – to find out more.

If It’s All About Who You Know & Most Jobs Are ‘Hidden’ – Do I Really Need A Resume?

Yes.

How’s that for a short and sweet article?

If your understanding of a resume is a recap of title, duties and company names, we have a lot of catching up to do!

Many, many, many, years ago a resume might have been this type of recap. Something that served for both applying for a job and filling out an application. But today, something like that is like an office having a rotary phone with no voicemail. Completely inappropriate and utterly useless.

An effective resume tells your value story, in your voice to get you the recognition and connection to achieve your career goals. It sets up all your career communication: interviewing, networking, LinkedIn, etc.

Let’ dive in by taking a look at what a resume is and is not before we get into why it is critical for your career.

IS NOT

Your resume is not about you.

It is about the reader. Do you know why I don’t state something like “looking for a position where I can add value and grow” on the top of your resume? Because the reader doesn’t care what you want.

They care what you can do for them. What’s in it for them? What do they gain by hiring you?

It is not a biography, tell all or epic novel.

One of the hardest parts of building your brand is taking out what is not important to your audience. The reason this is hard is two-fold:

1. We may get over excited wanting to explain the depth of our background. No one cares about every little project or task we’ve done. It’s too much.

2. We devalue ourselves and don’ think anything is important because it’s ‘just what we do’

It’s a what have you done lately world so your most recent experience is most critical. However, demonstrating a history of growth and increasing impact is equally important. Let’s just leave off the part time job you had in college since you graduated college 20 years ago.

IS

A story that you define the narrative.

Your resume is the opportunity to tell your story they want you want it understood, not necessarily the way it looks on paper.

It is a way to make that oddball job or unfortunate position fit into the greater narrative.

Every experience brings with it the opportunity to learn. Good or bad, there is always something to learn. And that is part of your story.

For the good jobs, did you fix a certain problem, create a new revenue stream, improve the customer experience? Why were you there and what value did you bring?

A future journey not past narrative.

If I were to tell you what I did in a previous life working in the financial industry, compliance things, it might make you yawn. It might also make you wonder how that ties into me being a career storyteller. I would need to tie the two together to make you care or at least be interested.

The way to do that is to use your future to define your past. If your target role is a promotion, find out what is important for that position. What are the responsibilities, how is success measured, what skills are needed? These answers become your guide to writing your background.

Your bullet points now will describe demonstration of how you have used those skills in previous roles. How you had similar successes. Proof of possessing desired skills and traits.

Is it beginning to make sense that your resume is not just a fact sheet thrown together to fill out a job application? Good!

Beyond the paper

An effective resume is your value proposition that comes together at the intersection of your brand and the market needs.

So how is it the foundation of career communication (LinkedIn, networking, interviewing, etc.)?

You have the blueprint. By demonstrating your value, the ROI for hiring you in your voice you know how to convey your value in any forum to educate, engage, and excite.

BUILDING AN EFFECTIVE RESUME

Let’s do a quick overview of how we build a resume that serves as this important foundation.

Change your mind set.

We start with knowing it’s a story, not a data sheet.

We discover what is important to your audience and use it as a guideline.

We prove value, skills, success based on the measurements your audience is looking for.

Why do I care?

For each role there was a purpose for you being there – what was it? Did you achieve that goal? Did you make a difference?

For your bullet points, no one cares what you were hired to do. They care what happens when you did it. Take a list of responsibilities and turn them into proof points.

What was the problem (similar to your ideal job, company or industries problems), how did you solve it? Who did you work with, how did you work with them, what did you do, how did something benefit? The beneficiary could be a client, coworker, team, process, idea or company.

Describe the scenario to give context.

– Increased sales 25% – So what? Did you inherit a book of business?

That is a meaningless number without proof. Your audience wants proof because they are not going to believe you just because you said so.

– Increased sales 25% by reestablishing ties with neglected secondary partners….
– Increased sales 25% within six months by designing new widget for whodonits….
– Increased sales 25% after eradicating longstanding backlog in processing…..

Make it personal.

Become alive within your resume. Make it sound like you. How do you think, how do you approach a project, how do you strengthen relationships, how do you do what you do? Use words that resonate with you.

When it comes down to two equally qualified individuals, the one that fits in with the culture is going to win.

How will they know if you fit in the culture if you don’t let yourself shine through? Use words that resonate with you to let your voice be recognized.

Putting it all together.

Now that you have the idea of the building blocks of your foundational resume, how does this translate to all other career communication?

Because you know how to tell the story. All the hard work and heavy lifting has been done in the resume.

Interviewing

More than likely you will be asked, “tell me about a time when….”. You have the answers in your bullet points. Here was the problem, here is how I solved it by working with whom, how and here is the result.

You’re following the good old STAR method – Situation, Task, Action, Result.

Networking

Too often we use our title as our introduction. You give the power of meaning to your audience. But, since you now know your value, you can engage and set the tone.

The opening “I’m a financial advisor” now becomes “I’m a retirement coach. My clients actually retire early with solid financials to enjoy their life.”
Another benefit of your resume is it gives you the confidence to tell your story in an authentic way. It’s not made up, it’s not foo-foo language that doesn’t sound like you. It is the you that you have forgotten about and can now easily communicate.

It’s the you that is going places.

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If your resume doesn’t excite you, sound like you or represents the you that is going places, let’s talk. I want you to discover the you that is hidden and ready to move forward in your career.

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 – CareerPolish.com – to find out more.

If You Have To Tell Someone You Are, You’re Not

I’m stealing that from my grandmother. It comes from watching an interaction with a disturbing lack of what used to be called social graces. After which, she turned to me and said, “If you have to tell someone you are a lady, you’re not.

I think this is one of the wisest things I have ever heard. Change out “lady” for anything of importance. This then lends to a question that will serve as your guide:

Am I saying it or am I proving it?

It doesn’t matter what you say, it matters what you do. People can say anything. I can say I’m six foot tall, that doesn’t make it true. (I’m five foot, by the way).

Never is this concept more important than in your resume and LinkedIn. These are the foundation pieces to your personal brand – the business you. The you that represents your promised delivery, the ROI, in doing business with you or hiring you.

When building your brand, resume, LinkedIn etc. there is purpose in every statement. Each has to pass the “so what” test.

I’m a project manager. – So what?

I’m a dynamic leader. – So what?

I’m an efficiency expert. – So what?

The three statements above are just that – statements. No proof. No meaning. There is more to the so what, it actually ends with “why should I care”.

I just earned my degree. – So what, why should I care?

I have 10 years’ experience. – So what, why should I care?

I used to work in the Automotive industry. – So what, why should I care?

These generic statements don’t build a connection or show value. They are telling, not proving.

Let’s prove value. Let’s make these statements mean something. Let’s tell a story. Let’s tell your story with these four steps.

1. What’s important

We need a purpose for our story. This comes from your audience. What is important to them? Saving time, making money, expanding territories, brining in the right people, streamlining processes, making things more efficient – what are their pain points? Where do they need help? What do they value the most?

2. Pieces of the puzzle

Here we are going to ask a few questions to get to your ROI. Once you have identified what’s important, we need to go back and find where you have done these things. That’s the basis.

Now fill it in by answering: who did you work with, how did you work with them what did you do, and how did something benefit?

3. Value

This is the key. How did something benefit? Answering this is your value. The something could be a team member, team, company, client, process, industry – anything. That’s your hook.

4. Lead with the greatest impact

These are the building blocks for your resume, LinkedIn, networking, elevator speech, and interviewing. This is how you prove your ROI with ‘here’s the value I bring by doing … (filling in what it is you do).

Let’s say you had a problem with time consuming programs that took a lot of time and effort to run. They drive your people crazy.

Now let’s say you were to hear (or read) the following:

“I save client’s an average of $150,000 by guiding them through replacing all their outdated processes for a single system that takes half the processing time.”

“I’m an account manager.”

Who do you want to talk to?

I would say the first person because they are speaking your language. They address your pain and tell you how they solve it. They tell you what you will most likely get in working with them (or hiring them).

 

When you start telling your story, which describes the value in what you do, that’s when you’ll start connecting.

 

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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 – CareerPolish.com – to find out more.

4 Step Plan for an Awesome Resume

My dad was a mechanic. My grandfather was an electrician. My uncle led a construction crew. My DNA is programmed to build things.

It’s how I look at resumes. Building a brand.

With any good build, you need a plan. Sequential steps with each action building on the last.

For a quick read and a plan of action to help you with your resume, here is my simplified plan of four steps to build your brand for an awesome resume.

Pre-work

Before we build there is one critical step – you have to know your goal. What job are you targeting? You may be interested in several avenues, but your foundation is for one.

Step 1. Position Purpose

What is the bottom-line purpose of the position? Narrow down the entire scope to one statement. Keep reducing it until you get to the bottom-line impact value. For example: maintain revenue streams and retain clients. Or: protect a book of business from risk.

Boil it down. There may be more than one purpose. This is barebones. It doesn’t have to be pretty. It will generally fall into something to do with time or money in one form or another.

Step 2. Core Drivers

Again, we are focusing on broad strokes. There are normally three to five activities that you must do to achieve the position’s purpose. List these things. What are those things? Perhaps one is to oversee system and quality assurance processes (CTO) or maintain records of financial transactions (Bookkeeper).

Step 3. Primary Actions

Now let’s start digging in. Under each of the core drivers, what does that entail? How do you do those things? Who do you work with, how, what do you do and how does something benefit from your involvement?

Step 4. Differentials

Here is the icing on the cake, putting you in your brand. How do you do the things in your chart that is different or better than anyone else? What makes you stand out among your competition? What skills or strengths do you use in completing the primary actions?

This is the blueprint to create an authentic brand that distinguishes you, supported by demonstrated value and speaks to the needs and critical points of the desired position.

When you cover all of those bases, you’ll be the top candidate for the job.

 

⇒⇒⇒ Want a kickstart – click Awesome Chart! to download our free blueprint chart to help you get started charting the most important elements for your resume and brand. ⇐⇐⇐

Need a little more kick and some coaching to get you clear and on your way? Click here to set up a free consultation to see how we can get you momentum in the right direction.

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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 – CareerPolish.com – to find out more.

 

 

 

You Get The Most out of Your Resume – and Vacuum Cleaner – When You Turn on the Power

 

Someone asked me the other day,

“Why do I have to detail what I’ve done in my resume? If they list a task as a requirement and I list it as a duty on my resume, won’t they assume that I meet that qualification? Isn’t that good enough?”

I don’t know when they reincarnated as my son when he was a teenager.

Let me respond to those questions in reverse order:

The answer is no.

The answer is no.

Oh, for goodness sake son, stop being lazy.

My son is in his mid-twenties now. I’m not sure how he survived his teenage years, but here we are. The thing about my son at that age was he was (and is) incredibly smart. Like scary smart.

He was also crafty. If there was a way to not do something, even if it were ten times more work to do what was asked, he would find a way. He always had an argument on why the lazy or lesser way was “acceptable”.

He was tasked with cleaning his room. Not a lot to ask. Yet it was a constant nightmare. Let’s use this example – specifically vacuuming his room – to relate back to the question at hand. (I don’t know why he had the biggest aversion to vacuuming, who doesn’t love those nice clean lines in carpet??)

Why can’t I do the bare minimum – list the job description as my bullet points. Because it is like vacuuming without plugging the thing in or turning it on. You’re barely going through the motions but it’s not saying (or doing) anything.

Won’t they assume I’m qualified? Just because my son said he vacuumed, I never assumed he turned it on. He may have drug it around his room to get fake lines. My brother taught me to spell assume with, “Never assume, it makes an ass out of you and me”. Assuming is bad.

Here’s the other thing – you have competition. Let’s say you are going to apply for a job. The prospective employer has listed the duties for this job and one is to vacuum.

In your resume you list that you vacuum, or have vacuumed before.

They don’t know how you vacuum or if you’re one of those that run a vacuum cleaner without turning it on to get the fake lines. You’re leaving that assumption up to them.

Now let’s say your competition lists that they:
– Turn on the machine when they vacuum
– Vacuum the entire area
– Use the brush attachment and clean the baseboards
AND THEN put on the skinny attachment and suck up all the cobwebs in the corners, windows, closets etc.

Which one do you think the employer is going to want to talk to?

To get the job you want you need to do two things (beyond qualify for the basics of the job):

1. Distinguish yourself (what are your differentials?).

2. Prove your value to them (the ROI in hiring you).

Know your worth to outshine your competition, get the interview and negotiate stronger.

If you’re going to go to all the trouble of pulling out the vacuum cleaner and drag it around the room, why not turn the darn thing on and do it right? It will give you much better results.

As to the conclusion of vacuuming saga of my teenage son – when he moved out I ripped up all his carpet and threw it in the dumpster. Then installed hardwood floors.

Who, besides me, loved Michael Keaton as Mr. Mom?? He’s still dreamy!!

 

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Having trouble trying to describe your vacuuming prowess? Let’s have a conversation. Click here Let’s talk! to set up a time for us to talk about how we can power up your Resume, LinkedIn or job search.

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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 – CareerPolish.com – to find out more.

Why Your LinkedIn & Resume Are Flatlining – And How To Revive Them

Are you sending out resumes that are getting lost in the blackhole of no responses?

Are people looking at your LinkedIn but not connecting or responding?

These are two strong indicators that your resume and LinkedIn profile are dead. Or dying a slow painful death.

What happened? You’re using keywords to describe your experience. It should be obvious that you are a match. Why won’t someone talk to you? Why is your resume or LinkedIn on life support or worse?

Because you are not talking with anyone. You’re writing at them.

That’s the cause of death.

Here are the symptoms

Is your job description your main points? Are you trying to talk “resume” or “professional”? If so, you’re not engaging. You are not only killing your brand; you’re killing the conversation before it starts.

You’ve got your eyes closed, hands over your ears talking in a different language to the person in front of you. You can’t have or invite a conversation that way, now can you?

Here’s the why

Resumes are a funny thing. No, strike that. Resumes stink. They are in a weird language, use the assumed “I”, and you’re not sure of what to include, how, or even the current rules. Writing your resume is a frustrating, mind numbing, nerve racking, exercise of torture.

Given this set up, is it any wonder that most people do what is easiest – use their job description as bullet points? No, of course not.

But easy isn’t always right.

The problem in doing so is many:

  1.  You are not conveying value.
  2. You are writing what you were hired to do.
  3. No one cares what you were hired to do.
  4. They only pay attention to what happens when you do it.
  5. They only care when it relates to them – what can you do for them.

In other words: boring, irrelevant, snooze fest, they have moved on. That’s if someone actually reads it. If it is your resume, it probably hasn’t passed the ATS system. But that’s another conversation.

Here’s the fix

Stop trying to be the right words and be you.

Have a conversation. I know resumes are a bit awkward. I call them an arm’s length conversation. You aren’t sure who is going to read them so it might be a bit removed, but you are still having a conversation.

Talk to them!

Take those bullet points, job duties, and bring them to life. Tell them why they want to talk to you. Break them down to include points of interest. Do so by examining them with these questions:

  1. Who did you work with?
  2. How did you work with them?
  3. What did you do?
  4. How did something or someone benefit from this?
  5. How is it better since YOU did it?
  6. What is unique about how you did it?
  7. What was the problem?
  8. Why was there a need for this?

It’s a bit of storytelling, a dash of context, sprinkling of keywords, and a whole lot of demonstrated value. Mix this all up and you have a conversation starter.

Talk with your reader. Imagine them asking you a question – “tell me about a time you fixed this problem”. Then answer it speaking to them directly, without the $10 words and fluff. Tell them what matters to them in a fast and understandable way.

If you drone on in person, people will tune you out. Drone on in your resume, they do the same thing.

Now LinkedIn is a bit different. The conversation changes. Instead of an arm’s length, it is now a one-on-one with the person you want to read your profile.

Think of it – and write it – from this context. You’re sitting in one of those ridiculously overstuffed chairs in a foo-foo coffee house across from your target reader. They ask you to tell them about yourself.

How do you answer that?

If you answer it like your resume, “I’m a senior technical professional with 20+ years’ experience….” Zzzzzzzz You killed the conversation. Why? Because no one talks like that in real life!

Answer it as a person. A real-life person facing another real-life person. What would you say – in person – in that casual, professional environment?

One of my most favorite examples is a client with boundless energy. And a LinkedIn opening of: “I am a TITLE with COMPANY who covers TERRITORY.” Zzzzzzz

We captured her energy by opening a conversation with an engaging statement that represents her, her industry, and her clients. In less than 10 seconds you know she is an influencer, a winner with a healthy balance of work and play.

We used “me”, “my”, “I” and “our” in her profile. She is talking directly with her audience.

Her views shot up 300% in the first week and recruiters were engaging with her.

Summary

Yesterday I talked to a young man frustrated at the lack of responses and engagement. When he explained to me one of his bullet points, he could tell me the value. His resume was a job duty. He exclaimed, “I don’t know what to say or how to say it!

My answer – to him and to you – stop talking at someone using words, phrases or even a style that isn’t natural. Pretend you are talking to me. And be you.

You are going to get noticed and hired due to a combination of things. Your experience, skills, expertise, and/or potential. But don’t forget the most important part of that equation, what it all starts with, even that sentence: you.

How can you tweak your profile to invite a conversation?

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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 – CareerPolish.com – to find out more.

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.

How?

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?

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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 – CareerPolish.com – to find out more.