How to Make Everyone – Including You – Stop Hating Your Resume

 

Let’s have a shout out – who likes to read resumes?

Bueller?

Bueller?

<<<crickets>>>

That’s what I thought. Now imagine if you had to read resumes a lot of resumes – to find the right person for your organization. How much would you enjoy your day?

Why do resumes have such a bad rap? Let’s take a look at some resume language that is very common:

“Experienced XYZ looking to use my leadership and MNO skills to improve blah, blah, blah…

“Responsible for we have already lost interest in whatever this might be….”

Or how about bullet points that are a recap of the job description:

  • Organize and coordinate operations in ways that ensure maximum productivity
  • Supervise employees and provide feedback and counsel to improve efficiency and effectiveness
  • Maintain relationships with partners/vendors/suppliers
  • Gather, analyze and interpret external and internal data and write reports
  • Assess overall company performance against objectives

Ugh! It’s all a big snooze fest. Not only is it boring, it is painful to read. Why? Because, in essence, the person hasn’t told you anything and it doesn’t even sound like a person!

There are two critical elements that every resume needs to get – and hold – the attention of the reader. Your value and your voice.

Value

Please, please, please stop using your job description as your bullet points. That is telling the reader what you were hired to do, not what you did. Instead, use these as a starting point.

For example: organize and coordinate operations in ways that ensure maximum productivity.

There is no ROI in that statement. It is missing your value. Expand on that by answering who you worked with, how, what you did and how productivity was maximized. Give metrics if possible, if not, describe the before and after.

I want to meet the organization who’s operations are simple enough for one bullet point. Really? Operations covers quite a bit of ground so break it out – show your value across the whole stream. There will be more value and beneficiaries. These could be the company, clients, processes, team, or an individual.

That is a lot of ground to cover – start writing it out. The more the merrier. It gives you more to play with when you are ready to start ruthlessly editing.

Which leads right into the second critical component: your voice

Voice

Please, please, please stop trying to write in ‘resume language’. It sounds unnatural and fluffy full of filler words. Your resume should speak to the reader and it should sound like you. Most of us do not litter our conversations with hundred dollar words when a ten cent-er will do.

Start with the dime conversation. Write out what you do as though you were talking to a real person. Go into detail, be natural, and use words that feel right to you. Don’t even think about putting it in a resume yet, just talk/write like a real person.

Once you get a mound of information, now the fun begins! Time to slice and dice. Look for commonalities that you can group. Is there a shorter way of expressing those two sentences? Ask yourself, what is the real point of these sentences, what do I most want them to know? Start there, then fill in the how’s.

Don’t take anything you do for granted. You may think everyone does what you and the way you do. They don’t. How you approach, solve, or plow through processes or projects is what makes you different.

Differentials are golden. Polish that gold by using your voice. Enhance your voice by using a thesaurus. “Manage” and “responsible for” get old quick. The thesaurus is your friend!

Keep editing, trimming and making sure your words are in there. That is how your voice will come through.

Oh, let’s not forget the keywords. These are critical for a little thing called ATS. Applicant Tracking Software. That is the wonderful tool that most companies use to screen your resume. They are looking for those keywords to qualify or disqualify you for the position.

The best place to find keywords is the job description. Where do you think the ATS gets them?

Just to make it more fun, ATS is getting smarter. It used to be that it only counted the number of key words in the resume. Now some software has evolved to be able to understand concepts. For example, if it is a project manager job, one camp of ATS is looking – and counting – ‘project management’.  The second camp of ATS understands context. It knows that “Managed this project” means project management and it counts.

Incorporate the keywords – and your words – into value rich bullet points. The result will be a resume that the reader will understand and want to find out more.

 

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 I 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 effectively communicate their brand 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 – CareerPolish.com – to find out more about how we can help you.

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

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Don’t Let Anyone Tell You What You SHOULD Be – Be What You Want

boy superman

 

When I was in college studying Criminal Justice, I wasn’t really sure what I was going to do with it, maybe become an attorney or work in a forensics lab.  Although I didn’t’ know, I was given plenty of suggestions.

My brother squelched the attorney thought (he was right) and my dad said I should be a Park Ranger. Wait, what? Now I love the outdoors and the fishing/hiking trips my family took but to go all in?  That one really took me and my mom for a loop.  I think he was suggesting that because he was an avid fisherman and outdoors guy and having a daughter who was a Park Ranger could be beneficial to see more national parks.

Needless to say, I did not become a Park Ranger or an attorney.

I was reminded of this quirky family story the other day when I got an unexpected email. The sender was super excited to tell me about the jobs listed within the email for which I was a perfect match! These positions included:

  • Facilities Coordinator
  • Administrative Assistant
  • Team Leader- Electronic Monitoring
  • Trial Attorney
  • Concierge
  • Project Manager

I am not making those up.  How in the world am I qualified to be a Trial Attorney? Seriously? I thought about it once, but really? But this email got me to thinking about ‘advice’.

Sometimes we get stuck where we are and are not sure what we want to do next or even what we want to be when we grow up. That is when we ask for advice. In this moment of doubt about ourselves or our career, we may start giving other people’s opinions more credence than our own. Stop that.

One of the most important and often underutilized or recognized tools in job searching, career changing, or really life is your gut. Listen to it. Listen to it more than you do anyone else.

It is okay not to know what to do next.  There is nothing wrong with that, it is normal. Just stay in that place for a bit and instead of asking everyone else first, ask yourself: what do you want to do.  Notice I did not say what are you qualified to do, what kind of job do you think you could get – no, what do you want to do?

Do not get caught up in the “I have only ever done this” or “I am not qualified to do that”. What do you want to do? When you acknowledge it, does it feel right in your gut? Great, that is your starting point.  Now you can start planning.  Look at your transferable skills, how to they match up?  How do you break into that field? Is there a lower level that your skills match up with to gain the experience? Is there training or education that you can earn? Where there is a will, there is a way. You just need a North to set your compass.

It may not happen in a day or week or month, it may take over a year or so; but having a goal that rings true to you is worth pursuing.

I am not saying do not ask advice, it is wonderful to get the input of our friends, family and others. Yet we need to take it in with a filter. If someone suggests you try a whole new avenue in your career, instead of just going with it, ask them why.  Maybe they see something in you that you have not seen before or in yourself.  In that situation, fantastic – they are helping you learn more about yourself.

If they can’t give you a solid reason, take it with a grain of salt, smile and thank them.

This is your path to create and we continue to create it throughout our entire career.  It is not a one and done so take your time. Spend time listening to your gut, intuition, the little voice – whatever you want to call it.  Remember your filters when soliciting advice from others and above all else – enjoy the process of change and discovery!

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

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

 

 

How to Keep Your Foot Out Of Your Mouth When Interviewing

Foot in Mouth

Let’s face it – interviewing is no fun.  I could say that in a clearer and more colorful way, but my mother reads all my articles so I am being nice.

It is nerve racking and I always equate it to dating. Before my boyfriend I hated dating. It was no fun.  It was torturous having thoughts of:  

“Am I making the right impression, will he like me, will he call me back, do I want him to call me back, do we have anything in common, do I look alright, did I spill something on myself, have I made a complete fool of myself…” all in the first five minutes of your first date.

Interviewing is really the same thing. You are hoping to make the right impression and a good connection. If you research interviewing, you will find almost overwhelmingly everyone will tell you to research and practice. 

This article is not about preparation or speaking to your abilities and attributes as they align with the job or company.  This article is about keeping your foot out of your mouth when trying to establish a connection.  If you want help on preparing and nailing the interview, here is an article I wrote for Recruiter.com:  Interview Like a Pro 10 Tips to Boost Your Confidence.

We want the interviewer to like us, right? We try to find common ground or a spark that we can have a conversation and make that connection.  But sticking your foot in your mouth by assuming or saying something (there is not nice way to say this) stupid when talking about something non job related is when all your hard work of research and preparation can come crashing down.

I think examples would help illustrate this point, so let me give you a couple snippets from when I was interviewing candidates.

During one interview of a very professional woman, she noticed a picture of me and my son on my credenza. I don’t remember exactly how she asked, but somehow it lead to me being a single mom and divorced.  Apparently this hit a nerve for her because what I do remember is her saying something very disparaging about ex-husbands (translating to bitter) and tried to get me to agree that all ex-husbands are good for nothings and how lucky we are to get out while we can.  I simply looked at her and said that I was sorry, I could not relate as my ex-husband was one of my best friends.

During an informational interview a young man was trying to bond by sucking up.  I am not a fan of sucking up in general, but this kid was swinging for the fences.  The investment firm I was working for was affiliated with a bank. He told me that he had talked to someone in a certain department of that bank and they knew nothing, and how refreshing it was to talk to someone like me who was an expert and able to give him such great information (gag).  I asked him if he remembered who he talked to at the bank. Since he was trying so hard to impress and had apparently turned off his brain, he told me her name.  I told him that is funny, she is my best friend.

Here are a few ways to keep that foot out of your mouth:

Don’t try so hard.  If you have done your research, you might have been able to find out some information about the interviewer.  Use it like spices in a fine dish – sparingly, gently and appropriately.  You are not trying to be their instant best friend, just establish a rapport.

Be yourself. Do not try to be someone you are not or someone you think they want you to be.  If you create this illusion when you interview, how long do you think you can keep that up if you get the job? 

Be aware of your surroundings. You can’t prepare for everything, so be aware of your surroundings. If you are interviewing in someone’s office, scan it for possible items of conversation.  But do not assume!  They may have something with a college in their office but that does not mean they went to that college.  Maybe their kid went or goes there.  Maybe it is a lost bet.  I worked with a couple of guys – one went to Indiana University the other went to Purdue University – and during any sports season, whoever had the better record, the other had to keep their rival’s memorabilia in their office.

Just don’t. Stay far, clear and galaxies away from talking about anything anywhere near politics or religion.  Just don’t.  That is too dangerous a territory to try to build a bond in this situation.  Just don’t.

If you do find that you start dipping a toe in your mouth, stop.  If I was doing the college rivalry thing in my office and you saw a Purdue pendant which led you to say, “Hey, how about them Boilers!” I would let you know I graduated from Indiana University. At that toe dipping moment you could rebound by saying, “Oh, see what I get for assuming!” with a light laugh or “then I bet there is a really good story behind that Purdue pendant”.  Make light of it and yourself.

Some gentle reminders:

The interviewer wants you to like them, too.  This is not a one way street of building rapport.  Listen to them, observe their body language and identify when you have an opportunity to further a connection.

You are interviewing them as much as they are interviewing you.  Ask questions, get a sense of the environment, culture, position, trajectory, opportunities, challenges – ask, listen and ask some more.

Building a rapport may not have anything to do with something personal.  It may easily come from your career history so run with that.

In summary – be yourself, mind your manners, ask questions and it will be much easier to find that nugget to start a rapport.

 

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I think they should have chocolate flavored shoes for all the times I have stuck my foot in my mouth!  I have plenty of examples of saying something awkward during an interview – what is the most awkward moment that you created for yourself in an interview?

 

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

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

Personal Branding – What?? The What, Why, How & the Most Important Question of All!

why - personal branding

Do you hear the phrase ‘personal brand’ quite a bit?  You should, it is a critical component and driver for having the career you want.  But, do you know what it means and how to use it? Before we get to that one important question – let’s review the the what, why and how of personal branding.

What

But what exactly is personal branding? It is the packaging of you.  Think of it this way, we are all in sales whether we work for someone else, are looking for a job or own our own business.  We are all in the business of selling the best version of ourselves to reach that next desired level in our career.  The best version of you is your product.  Your product is a unique combination of you and your value.  The packaging of your product is your personal brand.  Your personal brand is how you want others to see you, get you and remember you.

 

Why

The way all great companies market awesome products – through a marketing strategy and campaign.  That is where your LinkedIn profile, resume and any other virtual or real touch that you have with the outside world come into play.  You want to showcase your brand on paper, digital and in person – networking, speaking, interviewing, client meetings, etc.

 

Great brands bring great results.  For commercial based product marketing think Nike or Coca-Cola.  For personal brand marketing think Mark Cuban and Richard Branson, they have perfected their marketing strategy to create a brand that is bigger than their company.  I had a client tell me that her biggest dream would be to work for Richard Branson.  She did not name a company, she named him.

 

More Why

Your personal brand can elevate your three big C’s: confidence, connections and career.

 

When your personal brand is the authentic alignment of you and your value and you market it, people will want to connect with you.  Opportunities will present themselves because people will be drawn to you for who you are and what you do.  Your network is going to expand.  Your likelihood of finding that job increases.

 

SHRM surveyed employment and/or recruitment HR professionals to find out how they use social media for talent acquisition.  According to this September 2017 article, 84 percent of hiring managers use social media to hire — 96 percent use LinkedIn, and 53 percent use Twitter.

 

How

We’ve covered the blueprint of your personal brand, the combination of you and your value.  I call this the “V Formula” – your value (+) in your voice equals (=) visibility.  Think about who you work with, how you work with them, what do you do and how does someone receive benefit to start identifying value.

 

That One Question

Here we are, the one question you need to start with; the funny thing is this one question is the one that most people often forget to ask themselves or even think about when they think about their personal brand.

 

Why do you do what you do?

 

No really, why do you do what you do?  It is not enough to say “I love it”.  I love food and to cook but it doesn’t mean I am any good at it.  Dig into the why and no phony, what you think someone wants to hear why.

 

No blanket “I get to help people” why’s either.  We want reasons here, real concrete, sink your teeth into them, make you feel good reasons.  Start with the “I love it” and “I help people” but then go further, like this:

 

I love what I do and there are a few reasons why:

 

  • I help people who feel stuck break free and get what they want
  • I help people regain their confidence
  • I help people rediscover themselves
  • I help people see and accept their awesome
  • I help people cut through their internal BS
  • I meet amazing people who do extraordinary things
  • I work with people who have a fire in their belly, a passion for what they do, a desire to expand
  • Every day I get to talk with someone who loves what they do
  • I learn something new every day from the internal workings of an international racing team, the early stages in developing new cancer drugs, the complexity of merging two powerhouse organizations, the intricacies of medical devises, the compassion of patient care or the dedication of keeping the warehouse together during the lean years. Every day!
  • I get to use both sides of my brain: the analytical after an interview by analyzing my notes, researching positions, industries, companies, keywords, trends and preparing reports and tools for my clients. I get to use the creative when I am writing and designing the layout.  Then I go back into analytical to analyze everything all over again.

and on and on….

 

When you are ready to take ownership of your personal brand and let it work for you, read this article from the bottom up.  When you know your why all the other pieces will fall more easily in place.  So, start with the why, input the value, use your voice, market your product and measure against what is possible.

 

Set yourself free and see where it takes you – it will be an amazing journey!  Of course, if you need any help launching – you can find me on LinkedIn….

 

 

 

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A little about me: I do what I love: help leaders break out of a suffocating corporate existence and into a 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 – CareerPolish.com – to find out more about how we can help you.

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

Would You Hire You?

Jake and me 2014

My son turns 24 tomorrow. The light of my life, my sweet baby boy. My sweet, very tall, sarcastic, challenging, turned-my-hair-grey-in-my-20s boy.  Obviously, he did not get the height from me (as you can see in the picture – I’m even wearing heels!) but he sure got my sarcasm. In spades. Must be genetic.

The challenging part – well, I take the ‘blame’ for that, it was something I taught him to do.

When he was a little boy and would do something not so good followed by a halfhearted ‘sorry’ I would immediately ask him ‘for what?’ then make him explain. In detail. He hated that.

When he would struggle with a school problem I would ask him rapid fire questions of why or why not repeatedly with little time in between his answer and the next why.  I ignored his “I don’t knows” and instead asked what ifs. He hated that.

There was a method to my madness.

It is never enough to just say sorry, you have to know why you were saying it and at least try to mean it.

When you are struggling with a problem, often you know the answer. You either doubt yourself or do not trust yourself to follow through on your own answer.

After the rapid fire and the light turned on that he did know the answer, I would tell him ‘you got this’ and he would smile with a ‘yeah, I do.’

How does this at all relate to careers? Doubting oneself is a major roadblock in writing your resume.

There are two primary themes in the advice I give for writing your resume:

  1. Write toward what you want
  2. Write for your audience

Your resume is your branding statement to show the reader that you can solve their problems. If they did not have a problem, they would not be talking to you (or rather readying your resume).

It is important to know what is important to your reader, the position, the company, the industry. What are their problems, where do they need the most help, what is most important to succeed in that role?

You may not know the specifics to a company, but you should know the importance to the position. If you cannot answer those questions then why are you going after it?

Here is my challenging to you: if you cannot answer what is important in the job you want and how you can add value – then what are you doing? Why would anyone want to interview you if you do not even know anything about the position? How can you possibly sell them if you cannot speak to what is important to them?

I am not a car person, I once confused the oil light for the low on gas light. I am not a car person. If I were going to go buy a new car I do not want to get the sales person like me in terms of car knowledge.

Someone who comes up and says, “yeah, I don’t really know anything about cars, but I am a people person so I know I can do this job. Gas mileage on this one? I don’t know, I think it takes unleaded. You should buy it, it has four wheels, lots of shiny things on the dashboard and a great color of blue.”

Here is the thing – you DO know.

If it is a lateral move you really know. If it is a move up in your career, you have a pretty good idea. Stop doubting yourself so much. Besides, you can do research to back it up for crying out loud.

If you are doing a lateral move – think about it from this perspective: who would you hire? What would you want them to do? What skills, strengths, aptitudes and attitudes do they need to do well? How will they be measured? What would be expected of them? Write a job description for that job wanting to attract the best/perfect candidate. Then compare it to your resume. Did you even pass your own job search/interview?

If you are moving up, think about people in that position that you know or knew that did well or what you feel it would take. Research the position, connect with people in that position on LinkedIn and talk to them. Do some research, trust yourself and start putting it together then make sure your resume reflects the attributes that are necessary to perform the duties.

If you are transitioning into an unknown area, start with the research. Dig into the job, industries, markets, trends and reach out on LinkedIn to those in the industry or positions. Ask questions, take notes and put it all together. Then take a step back and identify what strengths and skills are required to perform the duties. Highlight those skills  – they are called transferable skills.

Did you notice a bit of a theme here – talk to people. Leverage LinkedIn, it is an amazing business tool. Find an accountability partner who will ask you those rapid fire questions so you stop thinking so much and spit it out.

Time to get back in the game – you’ve got this!

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

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

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The Key To Keywords: Be Easy To Find Not Easy To Forget

keywords

When writing your resume or LinkedIn profile to propel your career, you might be led to believe that keywords are the most important element or the key ingredient.

They are not. They are important, but not the most important element. They are like the crust for a cherry pie. You need the crust to hold it all together, but the most important part is the cherries. In this analogy, your value is the cherries.

I am not a foodie or food snob so I cannot get into the intricacies of pie crust. All I know is it cannot be too dry, too thick or too bland. It should enhance, not overtake or distract from, the pie filling.

The point of keywords is primarily to help you get found in a search. This is the easy to be found part. When they are forced into your profile or resume without purpose it makes you easy to forget.

The key to the perfect crust, or use of keywords, is the right blend of three things:

  1. Generic & Specific keywords
  2. Context
  3. Saturation

General and Specific Keywords

Do your due diligence before deciding on keywords. Research open positions, job descriptions, expectations and LinkedIn profiles of individuals in the role you desire. Leverage tools like TagCrowd.com to get a visual word cloud and take your own notes. If you are staying within the same industry or position, capitalize on your expertise to add words to that list.

Use acronyms if staying industry specific and expand the abbreviated form to cover any form of search criteria by the hiring organization for relevant keywords. Determine if there are acronyms that are not necessary to spell out.

For example, if I were writing my resume for my time in the financial industry, I would use both AML and Anti-Money Laundering within my resume. However, when detailing my licenses, I would simply write FINRA Series 7, 9, 10, 63, 65, 26, Life & Health, Property & Casualty and not spell out Financial Industry Regulatory Authority.

The case for general keywords is made for search purposes. When searching for a candidate, some searches are performed with a broader net of title or keywords and more selective of other categories to hone in on candidates. Others are performed with a specific title or set of keywords in mind.

For example, if looking for someone in sales, a recruiter may choose to use “Sales” instead of “Sales Representative” because any title with the word “Representative” would appear in their results. They can leverage other categories like location, years of experience and other factors to make a more robust, relevant list.

If your title is specific, for example Account Executive Northwest Territory you would want to use more general keywords in the description of your position to hit the keyword buttons. These might include account management, product development, business development, consultative sales, sales, sales cycle management, marketing, marketing management, analysis, channel or territory management.

Use a blend of generic and specific keywords to be found by any type of search performed.

Context

It used to be when ATS (Applicant Tracking Systems) were first put into place they simply counted the number of times a specific word appeared within the resume. People got creative – they drowned their resume with those words, even using white font in the margins to bump up the numbers.

These systems are smarter today, they not only identify words, they can identify context. They can now tell the difference between performing a certain skill for six years and haven taken a class on this skill six years ago.

This is where context is important. If you leverage keywords naturally in demonstrating your value, they will appease both the computer ATS and the human eye that will read your resume next.

Use keywords to demonstrate.

This is how you will accomplish the not easy to forget part.

Your value is not your title or your job duties. No one cares what you were hired to do, they care what you did.

To communicate your value think about who you worked with, how you worked with them, what you did and how they benefited. Translate this to a bullet point interjecting keywords to elaborate and strengthen your story. Position your accomplishments around the keywords.

This is talking the talk to demonstrate you walked the walk.

Saturation

You can overdo it with keywords. It will make your resume cumbersome and lacking direction. Your job is to demonstrate to the reader that you are the ideal candidate to solve their problem. Using a double crust will dilute the taste of the pie filling and be the center of attention instead of the cherries.

A long list of keywords without context is meaningless. It can communicate that you know the keywords but not the industry, position or value that you possess or is required.

My son played football, I spent years in the stands watching him and look forward to doing so again. Yet to this day I have no idea about positions, offense or defense strategies. I can throw out a boatload of football words but it does not mean that I can tell you if the team is running a man-to-man or zone defense.

Use keywords to enhance, not dilute, your message and value.

The purpose of keywords is twofold: to be found from a search and to demonstrate and support your value. Using the right keywords, in the right context in the right amount will accomplish both these goals.

 

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

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

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

 

Is Your Resume Speaking Their Language?

resume-speak-their-language

No matter where I roam, I am a Hoosier. I was raised on Bobby Knight’s coaching and weekend show, Reggie Miller ruling the court, watching the Indians on 16th Street and lighting of the world’s largest Christmas tree to name a few.

First and foremost I am just going to say, people are people. I meet and enjoy conversations with amazing, kind, good people all over the country. There is no judgement that one location is better than the other.

We now have an office in Tennessee. I have learned to manage the travel and scheduling, but had the most fun learning and observing the subtle differences between the two locations.

Although, we do have one thing in common: we all love Peyton and claim him as our own.

The biggest difference between the Midwest and the Mid-South to me has been the nuances of language. Although I still cannot figure out why it is standard to write Midwest as one word yet Mid-South is typically a hyphenated word.

I quickly discovered a uniqueness in the Mid-South, at least in my area, name calling. Name calling in the Mid-South is meaningless. A different kind of name calling.

I have been called sweetie, sweets, baby, baby doll, babe, honey and hon. Oh yeah, and sweet thing.

My boyfriend and I were at a local spot getting a pop when I heard, “Hey, sweet thing!”

In both the Midwest and the Mid-South the intent was to get my attention.

Now, where I am from, there is a certain connotation that comes with someone yelling that out. If I were back in the Midwest, I would have had a much different reaction. It would have been an insult to my boyfriend, and me, in a really bad icky-ish pick up throwaway line.

Not in the Mid-South, I just turned around. Not that I naturally assumed that I was the ‘sweet thing’ in question, but there was no one else around and I took a chance they were not yelling it out to my boyfriend.

Mr. Sweet Thing then asked me where I got my boots because his wife would look really good in them. I have to give him credit, they were awesome boots. One of my favorites, the pair I call my pirate boots: knee high black leather, fold over top, dangling charms, pointy toe with three inch heels.

When I told him a store in Indiana he said that stunk because he really wanted to get them for her and thanked me.

I learned that hearing any additional name within a sentence is not a personal thing, it is simply a word: thank you sweetie, good morning baby doll, hon can I help you, here babe let me get that for you, have a great day honey. Regardless of race, religion, size, shape – those little words are stuck in sentences.

I am used to hearing words, just a word without major meaning, stuck in somewhere in a sentence, in the Midwest you can here bro, brother, brah, buddy, dude, bud. It is not uncommon for men to use these types of words when speaking to each other, the Mid-South just happens to give the ladies their own list. Thanks y’all!

What does this have to do with resumes? Certainly not a suggestion of adding these words in there! No, no, no, it is all about the language nuance.

When reading open position postings, are you picking up on the nuances?

When you read about the company, are you getting the feeling of the atmosphere or environment? Does the company or position sound like it is a nose to the grindstone, all out, hard core performance only matters or a relaxed, collaborative place that encourages new ideas and growth?

Listen for the intent, do not just read the words.

When you read the job description, listen to your inner voice in putting together a picture of the opportunity, company and environment. When you read a novel, you form a picture of characters in your head based on the words the author uses; this is the same concept.

Once you get a feel for it, dig in for their important words; there are two sets: key words and descriptors. Use both to speak their language.

Descriptors are the words they use to describe activities or items. Do they use words like drive, propel, encourage, maximize – words that inspire action, excitement? Jot down words or feelings when reading to be able to match their level of descriptors.

Key words are word important to the position and duties. Jot them down as you come across them. A resource to quickly and easily check the most used words in any document is TagCrowd.com. Simply copy the text, paste it in the box and click “visualize”. Tada! A word cloud of the most used words.

Here is the word cloud for this article:

tagcrowd-example-within-article

Prior to the picture, there are 713 words. ‘Midwest’ was used 5 times, ‘pick’ twice and ‘words’ 13 times – just to give you a reference for the visual rating. Pick was identified with various endings.

Most people read the posting and primarily focus on the duties, then writing their resume filled with prior job duties to try to match up with the job. This is a mistake, they are missing critical areas and opportunities.

For the next opportunity you see that sounds like a great match, read it over several times to help your resume speak to them:

  1. Read the job duties for alignment with your value and what you want to do.
  2. Read the requirements to identify your qualifications.
  3. Read it all the way through to get a ‘feel’ for the environment listening to the nuances of how they describe factors throughout the entire posting.
  4. Pick out keywords and their important words.

Once you have this information, go back to your resume and communication and adjust:

  1. Emphasize the value you bring to the expected duties.
  2. Highlight your matching qualifications.
  3. Use their descriptors or similar to speak their language.
  4. Utilize keywords throughout your resume.

Taking a little extra time and ‘listening’ to what is written will help you demonstrate that you are the best candidate to the prospective employer in a way that they can hear you. And sweetie, that can be the difference that gets you the interview.

 

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

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

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

 

The Solution to Any Problem Begins With One Question

Questions

Have you ever have a problem or a situation that is beyond frustrating and try as you might, you cannot get out of the funk of it? Then someone all happy comes along and tells you to relax, everything will work out ok, be positive or some other sentiment that makes you want to throat punch them?

Me too.

And I have been that happy person you want to throat punch, too, but not in a traditional sense.

I am not going to tell someone struggling with a very painful and difficult situation to ‘just be happy, it will all work out’. Blah. Yet I do want to help them get out of that mindset and be able to move forward in a positive way.

The way I help work it out is the way I learned that works best for me. I learned it the hard way and wish I would have learned it years ago.

I ask one question: “Where is the good?”

That whole personal experience thing –tragic family and career events – I can look back now and for every single one, there was a positive. They all lead me in a different or better path. I could not see it at the time because I was too focused on the negative – losing a job, being cheated on, blah, blah, blah.

It is hard asking yourself – and even harder answering – what is the good in this terrible situation. But it can be a game changer. It changes your perspective, it changes your attitude and it can change the next course.

This really works best if you have someone you trust who will help you, i.e. get in your face and not let you quit.

At first you are going to answer ‘there is nothing good about this, I just lost my job!’ or whatever the situation is, ‘how can it possibly be good?’

When you are so entrenched on the negative and want to throat punch your accountability partner, this is where they need to step it up. They need to ask you how much did you love that job? They know you, you probably hated it but are now romancing it up because it is no longer there.

Stop that. And that is what your accountability partner needs to do for you, help you stop that. Whether calling you out on it bluntly or asking sarcastic questions to make you laugh – whatever it is, they need to help you get past that initial chicken little immersion attitude. If you are not comfortable doing this with someone else, do it in the bathroom mirror and give yourself hell.

If that thought pops in your head, ‘I really hated that job’ then you might realize the good could be that you are finally free of that life-sucking monstrosity of a company.

Maybe losing your job allows you to find something you really want. Something closer to home. Something more you like to do. Something that allows you to go back to school to finish or get a degree in what you really love. Something that gives you more time with your family. Something that pays the bills and isn’t too taxing so you can figure out what you want to do. Something in another state because now you are free to go anywhere you want.

You won’t know what the good is until you ask the question and force yourself to keep giving answers beyond the “there is no good”.

Many times we cannot see the good until sometime later and it has all played out. This is not an exercise in setting a concrete path as to what is next. This is an exercise to allow your mind to be open to the possibility that something good or better will come from this. When you shift that mindset from complete negative to optimistic potentially positive, good things will be revealed to you. Because now you can see them – they have always been there, but asking what is good helps take your blinders off.

Think about something going on right now, it does not have to be a life-changing negative thing, just a problem or challenge that you are having right now. What’s the good in it? Start jotting down some ideas and by the end of the day you might just have a whole new perspective and a solution!

 

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

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

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

 

The Best Way To Write Your Resume – Stop Trying to Write A Resume

cheshire-cat-doesnt-do-resumes

Now how does that title make sense? Not writing your resume is the best way to write your resume?

It does seems like Cheshire Cat logic – but don’t disappear on this idea just yet. Read on and hopefully the concept will be more clear than the cat in all his glory up in the tree.

(Oh that was terrible, I apologize, I seem to have some weird fixation on Alice in Wonderland theme going on. It probably will not get any better…)

You want to write a resume document, but not write the document as a resume.

More Cheshire Cat logic?

It is the approach, Alice – all in how you think about this document, and its purpose,  that will make the difference between painstaking or productive. It will also have a significant impact on the content and if it will garner the attention that you really want.

But first, why should you not perceive or approach writing this document as a resume:

  1. Most everyone hates writing resumes (except professional resume writers, we are a unique sort) so you are already in a bad mood about it. When has anything turned out well when you start off all sour about it?
  2. Hardly anyone freely and easily speaks ‘resume’ (again, except us professional resume writers – we are the hit of the party with this one) so it is not a comfortable writing style.
  3. Most resumes templates are geared toward duty based documents. If you have not done this in a while or just doing research to help freshen it up, odds are you are going to come across a template or two.
  4. You might ask friends to take a look at their resume, just keep in mind most do-it-yourself resumes are duty based. This means that the bullet points under each position neatly and vaguely tell the reader what the person was hired to do. Meaningless. Just because you were hired for these things does not mean you did them or did them very well.
  5. It might be a natural inclination to assume.  No need to tell the reader what something means, they should be ale to figure it out, right? Wrong. They know nothing more than what you tell them. They are not going to read further than what is presented to them. That is not their job. It is your job to tell them what they need to know in a clear and meaningful way.

The key to writing a resume without thinking about it as a resume is to think of it as a conversation.A conversation to tell your story, the way you want the reader to understand it.

Cheshire Cat again?

Vary rarely will a career have a straight and narrow path up, up, up. For most of us, it is a windy, twisty road full of the unexpected. To anyone else, it does not make sense why you went to this company or that, how this position came about and promoted into that one.

This is your story, you may be the only one who truly gets it.

So your job is to bridge the gap between all the twists and turns with the reason why the reader would want to talk to you: your value.

The common thread between all the positions you are listing is the value you provide by performing duties leveraging your strengths, skills and expertise.

So when writing your resume, sit down at that computer or pad of paper and have a conversation. Think about writing out your side of a conversation with the Cheshire Cat looming above asking:

  1. How did you get there?
  2. What were you originally hired to do?
  3. How did the job every change after you started?
  4. What did you like most about the job?
  5. What did you learn while you were there?
  6. Any other questions that get your mind thinking about the value you provided

Respond in full, write it all out as though you were having a conversation because that is where you will find the hidden nuggets of value to transform into a value-based document.

The fun part is going back and slashing and dashing to make sure each bullet point is now demonstrating value. Don’t forget the key words and let your old friend Mr. Thesaurus help you out to start making it sound more resume-ish.

Once you start getting the knack of storytelling for value purpose, you will soon have a resume that even the Red Queen would read!

(Oh yes, I had to finish it up in the Alice in Wonderland theme, it could have been worse – I am a huge X-Men fan, just think what I could have done with Wolverine references!)

 ✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰

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

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

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

Thanksgiving – A Time To Create Your Own Personal Sales Force

thanksgiving-family

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

His friend asked how.

Boom baby! 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰

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

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

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