The Infestation of Fleas in Your Job Search

 

I have three dogs.  Three spoiled, indoor and office dogs.  If you call our office you might, just might, here a glimpse of them, although they are pretty well trained to know the sound of the phone triggers quiet time on their part.  That might just be the only way they are trained.

 

Being in the office every day and quite spoiled any other time, they see the great outdoors only to take care of nature calling and brisk walks in the neighborhood. In other words, these are not the hang outside all day kind of dogs.

 

I have not had a problem with fleas in years. 

 

Until this week. We are house sitting and in the evenings they have been enjoying the most beautiful backyard.  Of course they are forced to because I am greatly enjoying the overhanging trees, abundance of flowers, soothing sounds of the pond and many sightings of squirrels, hummingbirds, butterflies and more.  Forced because these spoiled little things will not go anywhere without me.

 

The other day I noticed one of my dogs scratching and doing the quick turns on his rear end with a quizzical look.  I did not think much of it because this is the same dog that gets frightened every time he passes gas.

 

He started scratching a bit more.  Then another one started scratching a little. Pretty soon it became a scratching party. About this time, while sitting outside, I happened to look down and noticed little black jumpy things lingering on my socks.  Uh oh.

 

As an over-analyzer, I immediately took to Google to learn all I could about these nasty little creatures.  Turns out, this beautiful yard is not only a heaven for me, but for fleas, too.  Awesome.  Off to the store I went – flea treatments for both the dogs and yard.  Yippee.

 

How on earth can such little jumpy things cause such distress?  Seriously, they are miniscule; and yet, wreaked havoc on my poor puppies – and me.

 

Now that we are comfortably enjoying some quiet time in the peaceful oasis, the connection to job searching hit me – doubt is fleas.

 

When first job searching you might start full of confidence, hope and positivity.  After sending out a resume or two the first flea jumps on: a flicker of doubt. It is easy to brush that one off and think it is your dogs getting werided out by his own farts, but then a bit more time passes and another couple fleas/doubts jump on board.

 

Things start to turn from a mild irritation Maybe they didn’t receive it to an annoying scratch I keep sending them out and not getting a response to a full on infestation Am I not good enough, am I over qualified, am I underqualified, I know I can do this – why are they ignoring me, I am getting responses to jobs I don’t want but nothing on the ones I do, am I too old, do I not have the right experience or education, what is wrong with me?

 

It is time to get the flea removal stuff.  And it stinks, but it is worth it.

 

First treatment – every time another flea/doubt jumps on or bites, recognize it and kill it immediately.  Am I not qualifiedsquash!of course I am!

 

Second treatment – look at your environment, this is your branding materials: your resume, networking communication, LinkedIn etc. Remove all fleas/doubt in those.  Make sure your resume is speaking to your value, not your duties.  What did you do, how did you do it, how did others benefit – this is the ROI of hiring you that potential investors (employers) want to see.

 

Third treatment – keep repeating the first treatment while reaching out to your network to convey what you are looking for in a way that they understand, identify for you and connect to you.  If they are not in your industry, do not confuse them with industry jargon. Ask for help and advice, yet use what feels right to you. Research ‘flea eradication’ and you will get a multitude of suggestions, but not everything is going to work for you.

 

Fourth treatment – stop trying to treat things that are not there.  Some products boasted that they killed certain other bugs – guess what, we don’t have them in this area.  Applying for jobs you do not want is a double whammy.  It feels twice as bad to get rejected for something you didn’t even want in the first place!

 

Fifth treatment – give yourself a flea bath, i.e., take time to relax and keep things in perspective.  Hiring is not always a one day deal.  There is a lot of time and money invested in finding quality candidates and it is during this process that time stands still.  Remember to relax, treat yourself and keep killing any stray fleas/doubts as soon as they pop up.

 

These little suckers do not start in a hoard, they build up to infestation just as doubt does.  Recognize it, treat it step by step and soon your confidence will be back and the right offer will be presented to you.

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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 ★
please visit LisaKMcDonald.com
 Click the “Yes Please!” button on the right side. 

Help Your Network Help You Get The Job You Want

 

nyc-subway-7

I had never been to New York City until this week.  All I can say is – I am going back.  I was there two days, walked over 20 miles and barely scratched the surface on things to experience, see and do.  I will not even start on the food, let’s just say it is a good thing I put on over 20 miles on the sneakers or I would come back looking like Violet from Willy Wonka after the bubble gum incident.

The trip was fantastic and we were so proud to say we were getting the hang of the subways.  We spoke too soon.  The last train back to the hotel after a full day of experiencing and we were exhausted.  We knew the station we needed to get off on so instead of plotting it out ourselves, we asked the subway expert for instructions.  We needed to go to Flushing.

Flushing Brooklyn that is.

It is not where we ended up.

We went to Flushing in Queens.

For anyone familiar with New York City, you are welcome for the laugh.  For anyone not familiar, these two places are, according to Mapquest, about an hour away via subway. They are not close.  There was a bit of backtracking before we were headed in the right direction.

I was not upset at the little impromptu adventure added to our trip, after all, who could I get mad at?  We asked for instructions for Flushing – we just did not specify – so we left it up to whomever we were talking with to fill in the blanks.

This is what can happen when job searching.  If you simply tell your friends, family and network that you are ‘looking for a job’ they might send you to Queens.  How do they know you want Brooklyn and not Queens if you do not specify?  It is not their fault, you left it way too open and allowed them to fill in the blanks.

To be honest, you do not want just any job.  I saw several people this week working tremendously hard at jobs I would not want to do or could not do.  Do you want to be the guy in the shop that cooks the ducks that are still staring at you as they roast?  How about the one stocking the local mart with the live frogs on the end cap?  Or a delivery driver in the heart of NYC?  Oh heck no!

You need to be specific when speaking to your network, yet speak in a language they understand.  When buying Dragon Fruit at the Asian market, we found unique ways of communicating as we had a very limited shared communication platform.

Use words that your network can relate to and more importantly, understand to repeat.  Do not simply leave it at a title or industry.  The only thing your network knows about titles or industries is this: what they have personally experienced or heard from their network.

Leaving it to simply an industry is much too vague.  Information Technology, that means nothing.  The possibilities within that industry are endless. Do you work on a help desk, system programming, analytics, accounting, sales – what do you do?  Then explain it in a way that relates to your audience.

Think of from their eyes. If you work with the help desk in some capacity, think about how they would interact with you or your department.  Perhaps saying something like, “You know when your company updates a system and the next morning you’re completely frozen out….I’m the guy/gal that makes sure that doesn’t happen.”

Give them something they can relate to and repeat to help you get to the right station in life and not wandering around for another hour stopping at every unrelated stop along the way.

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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 ★
please visit LisaKMcDonald.com
Click the “Yes Please!” button on the right side. 

Not Looking For A Job Is The Perfect Time To Prepare For a New Job

cleats - preparing resume for new job when employed

As a parent, I think we all have that one saying or phrase that absolutely drives our kids crazy. If you would ask my son I am sure it would be ‘you lack of planning does not constitute an emergency on my part’.

He would ‘forget’ about projects, deadlines or responsibilities and somehow it would spill over to me. Finding 24-hour stores to buy poster board or other supplies; finding cleats that would fit him, were the right color and would actually last past two games at the last possible minute or completing forms on the way to school.

He would get in quite the tizzy about the impending deadline and be frustrated with me because I did not alter my speed in helping complete the impending doomed task.  This is when the phrase would come into play.

He did not like the fact that I did not take on the urgency of the situation.  He asked me once why I did not and I told him because, quite frankly, it was not mine.  He knew, even without specific deadlines, that preparation was needed, yet failed to plan and prepare.

You do not do 2-a-day practices not knowing you are going to need new season cleats.  C’mon.

Maybe your job has been stable, given you the opportunity to learn something new – yet you  know you are going to want to leave. You are not quite fulfilled or you see a change in the industry or company that does not sit right with you.  Perhaps you are content, it is good enough, although if another opportunity comes up you would certainly entertain it, even though you are not looking.

You are at 2-a-days.

You are actually preparing for the next step in your career even if you are not fully aware of it.  There is one missing piece – what if that opportunity does come, out of the blue – then what?

Are you fully prepared?  Can you translate what you are doing to what you want to do?  Can you communicate effectively how you can easily move from one position to the next?  In other words: is your resume and interview prep ready?

I hope so.  Your break can happen any time, ready or not, it can happen.

I do hear people say that the resume is dead.  No, not really.  You see, it not only serves as a document that companies keep on file for their official records, as a means to introduce yourself to the right audience – it serves a greater purpose.

It helps you identify and communicate the  most important aspect of you as a contributing employee: your value.

What do you bring to the table?  It is not your current job description or any job description for that matter.  Those things are what you were hired to do.

Your value is what you do, how you do it and how others receive benefit from it.

You manage a team.  Yawn.  What does that mean?  What kind of manager are you?  Do you bark out orders, give numbers then keep locked in an office demanding quotas be met?  Or are you the roll-up-the-sleeves-in-the-weeds with your team get it done, motivating, mentoring manager?  Saying you are a manager does not give the slightest inkling into your value.

Oversee a budget.  Boring.  What does that mean?  Compile reports. Snooze. What information is included, where do you get it, how do you put it together and who uses it for what purpose?

Translating value into a resume is not just for the reader – it is for you.  When you compose a resume that is value driven demonstrating rather than stating you get the benefit.  This is your sales statement.  Before you can sell any product you have to know it inside and out.

Putting together your resume gives you the complete information about the product – you; the benefits, features, strengths and return on investment.  Knowing this information you can ace interviewing and networking by being able to adapt your sales statement to any audience.

When you try to put together this tools critical for career progression at the last minute it will most likely turn out like the 11th hour school poster board project.  Is that how you want to present yourself to an ideal opportunity that just fell in your lap?

If you are not actively looking for a job now is an ideal time to start putting your resume together.  There is no pressure or deadline that is breathing down your back.  Also, hiring a professional resume writer at the 11th hour is not going to guarantee success.  Many do not do immediate turn around because we understand that an effective resume is not simply translating your job duties into pretty bullet points within 24 hours.

Start now.  Take an old job think about what you did, how, who you worked with, how you worked with them and how they received benefit by you doing what you did.  This is the foundation of value.  You then have plenty of time to review, add, edit, tweak, evaluate, walk away, tweak some more and have a baseline ready.

That way when an ideal opportunity appears – or a worst case scenario (downsizing, mergers, closings etc.) all you have to do is a bit of tweaking and can engage immediately.  As Henry Hartman so eloquently said:

“Success always comes when preparation meets opportunity”

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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 ★
please visit LisaKMcDonald.com
Click the “Yes Please!” button on the right side. 

Is Your Mouth Cutting You Off From Your Network?

covering mouth

It fascinates me how it really is a small world. I really do think there is something to the theory of six degrees of separation.  It is fun discovering the connections with people that you meet.

These connections can help forge strong networks and connections.  People in your network remember you because of something shared.

Sometimes the connections are made by one party but not in a good way.

Years ago, I had a young man ask for time to conduct an informational interview.  He was very eager to enter in the financial industry, and to please whomever he was sitting in front of at the time. He had transferred from another state and had talked to someone in banking before speaking to me (I was in investments).

When discussing the differences between banking and investments he said he talked to a woman in the other state, but she didn’t know anything about the industry. I asked what bank and he told me and the woman’s first name and title.

As luck would have it, he talked to my best friend, which I casually tossed out there.  The interview ended shortly after, he was a bit at a loss for words having insulted my best friend – and not being honest because that woman knows more about the industry than anyone I know.

You never know who knows whom. People should really keep this in mind when networking.  You may think people from a certain town are back-water hicks, but for goodness sake, do not say that out loud!  Insulting other people is not a way to align yourself with someone else.

Neither is assuming they are idiots. I was at a networking event once and met a financial advisor. He liked to dictate conversations and let everyone know how important he is and so much smarter than his audience.

A friend and I were talking to him, well, listening to him talk about investment strategies. At one point, he paused and looked at me and said (in a voice you would use with a young child) “I can explain the difference between stocks and bonds to you later if you need.”

My friend about choked on his drink, he knew my background.  I smiled politely and told him that it would be very kind of him but I do have an idea of the difference between the two.  I tried.  I really tried to give him an out in a very polite manner.  But he was having nothing of it.  He persisted that investing could be very complicated for someone not in the industry so I really shouldn’t assume I know enough to make any decisions or know the difference.

That was it.  I said I should know the difference since I am a former manager and compliance offer having held my 7, 63, 65, 9, and 10 and I also know about insurance having held my 26, Life & Health and Property & Casualty.  (I was licensed as a stockbroker and manager in both investments and insurance).

The point is this – treat everyone in your network with respect. Our backgrounds make us unique, not put us at a disadvantage or beneath anyone else.  There is pride in our past. Being disrespectful of a person’s background or upbringing does not align you with ‘the right people’ it alienates you from people.

Celebrate differences and focus on what you have in common and how you can help others.  That will build strong bridges that lead to incredible opportunities.

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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 

 

How Do You Explain You?

how to you explain you

One of my favorite quotes and guiding principles comes courtesy of the great Albert Einstein:

“If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”

This is something I learned from my dad.  Heaven help that man, he was ‘blessed’ with a very curious daughter who liked to ask a lot of questions – most of them “why?”

He had an amazing teaching capacity being able to translate the complicated into something a young mind could grasp, understand and replicate.  This is how I learned to use power tools before jr high, the delicacy of baiting a hook and driving a stick shift – in about 20 minutes.

He knew the key for me: explain the why while describing the how.

Knowing your audience, understanding their language and explaining something simply was how he helped me move mountains.

When you are staring at the mountain of career change, it is important to remember these three key elements, which bears repeating.

Know your audience

Understand their language

Explain simply

The first two are the easier of the three to accomplish.  If changing industries – do your research; if you are advancing in your current field – rely upon your expertise in the field.  You will be able to identify the decision makers, what their challenges are and make the correlation to your strengths and accomplishments demonstrating you and the value you offer as a solution.

Explaining simply is hard.

We have a tendency to use too many words.  As an Executive Resume Writer – I know of what I speak.  I do it, too. Ask any of my clients and they will tell you that when I send them their working draft I give the caveat – this is too long and too wordy.

I do it intentionally.  I want them to get the full effect, to see all the words to comprehend the concept.  The next step is the fun part – we rip it apart. We tear through all those words and simplify.  We cut to the core, cut to the chase, cut the crap.

I could do this on the first draft, but I like them to see it this way for a couple of reasons: we like words, we feel like we get a better understanding of words.  Seeing too many words also makes you realize that there are too many words.  This strengthens the process.  If we started with the cut to the core they might feel we missed something.

The other reason is that my process is a collaborative process.  My clients have skin in the game; the more they are engaged and are a part of the process, the more they engage and own their tools.  This leads to them loving them more and utilizing them more effectively.

When people ask you what you do – are you explaining it simply enough?  After thirty seconds, you lost them – it is not simple enough.  Do they ask questions, are the engaged and want to know more?  If not, it is not simple enough.

One way to help simplify how you describe you is to think about how would you explain it to a child?  Think teenager or preteen.  Old enough to grasp things but with a short attention span.  We all have short attention spans when it comes to asking others what they do, kids are just not as good as faking it as adults.

If you can explain it to this age group and they get it – you are spot on. Not only will they understand, they will be able to repeat the information, i.e. sell you.

Years ago in between football practices my son brought a buddy home to raid the fridge and hang out.  I overheard the conversation and I knew I was spot on in how I communicated to him.

His friend asked what I did and my son told him I help people get jobs.  At this point I wanted to jump in and correct him because that made me sound like I do recruiting or placement (which I do not).  But something held me back and I listened out of eyesight.

This is when the magic unfolded.

His friend asked how.  Tada – my son phrased it in a way for his audience to ask a question.

He explained that I work with them in re-writing their resumes, help with interviewing and all the stuff that helps them get a job.  Alrighty then.

The next day his friend’s dad called and hired me.  Bingo – my son explained it in a way his audience could understand and sell me to others.

Using big words, industry jargon or a whole host of fluff does not impress or improve your message – it dilutes it.

Explain it simply and people will connect.  This is how you start moving that mountain.

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

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

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

 

 

You Are Not An Old Dog Stuck In A Career – You Can Learn New Tricks

old dog learning new tricks

I was at a party last weekend and had a wonderful conversation about dogs with a fellow guest.  Us dog people can sniff each other out in a crowd.  I mentioned that I had hired a trainer to train me on how to train my dogs and he was quite interested as he had a pup or two that could use some guidance.

Near the end of the conversation a light bulb went off and he remarked that my dogs were not young.  No, they are not.  My boys are both 7 and the little princess is over 10.  And yet, they took to the training.

I do not know where they phrase, “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” came from.  After my training experience, I have concluded it was coined by a person who was not trained to train their dog and therefore their dog did not respond.

Too often during our career journey this phrase pops into our heads when we feel stuck.  Unable to move forward or even laterally into a new position or company that would better benefit us.  Perhaps we use it as a consolation phrase to make us feel better.  It is an excuse.

We can learn new technology, skills, systems or even ways of thinking at any age – it is our will to do so that is the determining factor, not our age or length of time in a position.

I am continually motivated by clients that have completed advanced training, education or even a complete jump into a new career after years being stuck in a box.  That is courage and it is impressive.  The one common denominator with all of these amazing people is this: they had a desire that they turned into action.

They wanted more, better or different.  They realized it was not going to materialize out of thin air where they are so they went after it and did it.  Sometimes it is to advance their careers, other times it was to expand their own capabilities without a direct correlation to their career.

Not all knowledge is going to serve as a means to propel your career – if you want it, go for it anyway.  Setting and achieving that goal gives you a sense of accomplishment and pride that is irreplaceable.

To learn new tricks does not always mean formalized certification or education.  Sometimes the best tricks you can learn are free.  You have a wealth of knowledge and experience all around you in your network.  Look around at your circle of influence, alliances and friends.  Explore your connections on LinkedIn.  Then take the most important step – ask.

One of the best ways to increase your knowledge is to simply ask.  I have a wonderful alliance of women that I see frequently and we combine exercise with expansion.  If any of us have a question, problem or contemplating a new idea – we ask the others.  We discuss our businesses, marketing, opportunities, experiences, thoughts, failures and stories.  This is a mobile MBA program in business!

In the world of knowledge, we are all very young pups with a lot to learn.  Let’s start by asking.

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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. ★

 

Really Connect When Networking By Getting Torn Apart

I used to attend quite a few networking events as a friend of mine before he relocated.  He was a great networker, always bringing new people to events.  He liked to play a game with them, the poor unsuspecting people.

Many that he brought were new to networking or did not feel comfortable, so he was their wing man.  He also told them that there was someone there that could help. He just did not tell them about the way I would help.

Before he had us do our introductions, he would comfort each person saying, “Just go with it, I promise it will help.” Then I would ask them what they do and the fun began.

It might go something like this:

Me: “What do you do?”
PUP (Poor Unsuspecting Person): “I work for XYZ Company…”
Me: “That is who you work for, but what do you do?”
Pup: “I’m a manager at XYZ Company…”
Me: “’Manager’ is pretty vague, it still doesn’t tell me what you do.”
Pup: “Well, I oversee the ABC Department” looking at my friend for help
Me: “So you just hang out and watch people in the ABC Department work?”
Pup: “No. I mean, I do watch over them, but I do more than that.”
Me: “Like what?”
Pup: “Well, I have to set the goals and standards for them.” shifting in place uncomfortably
Me: “So you just set goals and standards for people that you ‘manage’?”
Pup: “yeah” small sigh of relief that it is over – not quite….
Me: “No.  That can’t be all that you do.  What is the purpose of you setting the goals and standards?”
Pup: “So our customers get their orders taken care of quickly and the right way and we can take more calls.” a little flustered at this point
Me: “So the managing, goals and standards all goes into customer service, it’s about your customers?”
Pup: “Yeah” a little worn out from the drill sergeant approach
Me: “So what you do is make sure if I order something from your company that I get the best service on the phone followed by receiving my order quickly and right the first time?”
Pup: “Yes! That is what I do.” light bulb!
Me: “Then that is how you introduce yourself.”

This whole conversation can take place in about a minute or so.  It is a rapid-fire approach that limits the poor person’s ability to think and formulate an answer.  I don’t want them to think about it, I want them to answer.  Gut feeling, instinct.  They know what they do, they are just afraid to say it the wrong way.

We get caught up in thinking too much. I am an over-analyzer, so I know all about this.

Networking is an interesting game and experience.  Most people are not paying attention because they expect to hear the same things from every person, just like getting the same networking chicken at every event.

“I work at…”
“I am a fill in title here”

Neither of these things tells value.

Of course, my golden rule comes into play here.  If you are a Pediatric Oncologist – that pretty much sums it up.  You get a free pass on this one in using titles.

For the rest of us, our title and even company do not convey value.  They convey – wait for it – our title and the place we work.

Our value is the positive benefit received by what we do and how we do it.

To craft a succinct elevator pitch you have to peel back the onion, or think of it as a series of ripping off band-aids.   Enlist a friend and do a rapid-fire exercise.

Take turns practicing your elevator pitch – but – for each blanket statement or open ended word immediately interrupt that person and ask a question. Ask questions like:

Who do you work with?
How do you do that?
Why do you do that?
What does that mean?

Ask immediately and make the other person answer without pause.  Keep asking questions, it is the theory of five whys.  The more you ask the more layers you peel back and the real, impactful value is soon discovered.  Using the rapid fire approach also helps cut out a lot of the unnecessary words and fillers.

It can get frustrating but as this is a friend, keep reassuring each other that you are doing great.  This is an exercise and it is meant to help.  There are also no wrong answers, just more avenues to discover.

Take your friend along to the next network event and be each other’s wing-person.  When they are introducing themselves with their new pitch, watch the reaction of their conversation partner.  Critique the interaction including their delivery, body language, if they capitalized on opportunities to engage further and any other items you notice.

In a very short period of time you will have achieved:

  1. An elevator pitch that tells people your value (what they care about the most)
  2. A succinct delivery
  3. The ability to engage your conversation partner
  4. Quality interactions

One last tidbit – mix it up.  Do not rely on the exact same opening for each networking opportunity.  Do not memorize your speech, know the highlights and let it flow.  It will keep it fresh and you can easily modify it for your audience leading to energetic interactions with each new person.

Although networking can be critical to building a career, reputation and business – it should also be fun!  So grab a bottle of wine or a six pack, a good friend and have some fun playing ‘rapid-fire rip apart the elevator pitch’!

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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.

9 Strategic, Subtle Steps for Job Searching While Still Employed

Job searching while employed

It has been a great run. The company that you are with had done well, you were able to add value, you had a great team and came to work with purpose and eagerness to keep it rolling.

But something happened along the way.

Leadership changed, markets declined, good people left, culture morphed into a place that feels stuck or stagnate. Something happened to dampen that enthusiasm.

It started as a feeling, a nagging somewhere deep inside that something just is not right. It has since been growing to an inclination to find the irritations or things that are wrong rather than being able to see the brighter side of situations.

It is now an uncomfortable feeling that has you having internal conversations. Asking if it is worth it to stay, will things change back, will they get better, can you stick it out?

Left untouched, this feeling will turn into a resentment, anger and frustration that will cause a rift in business value, product, quality and relationships. It will become a dread on the way into work and a huge sense of relief when you leave that never quite feels right again.

You are ready to break up with your job.

Some opportunities, no matter how long, are meant as a growth experience, not a forever home. Fear of the unknown, starting again or even attempting to see what is out there manipulates us into looking at this starter or mid-way home as our forever home.

It does not fit and you know it. Now is the time to take control of the situation before the situation dictates to you what you must do next. There are benefits to leaving while you still somewhat like where you are:

1. Security in knowing you have time; you do, after all, have a job.
2. Ease in talking to prospective employers in talking about your current position in a positive way.
3. Less pressure in having to find a job right now.
4. A greater sense of worth and control in being the driving factor of change.

How do you find that new position? It has been some time since you looked and it is not like you have a lot of extra time in your schedule. Two words: strategy and subtlety.

Strategy

The value of approaching a change strategically will give you power and control over what happens next. Being clear on your goals, value and opportunities will clarify if a change now is in your best interest. You may find after doing a little research and exploration that you might have over amplified the current situation and desire to rededicate yourself to where you are now. Revisit your strategy often to modify as necessary based on your results.

1. Clarify why you want to leave. Is there anything there that could change that would make you want to stay? Do you have an impact on the situation – i.e., is there anything you can do to take ownership to change the situation?

2. Get your head out of your current job and think about what you want to do next. Not in terms of a job title, rather the actual actions that you want to be doing on a daily basis. What do you enjoy the most and where are your strengths – where do these intersect?

3. Identify your value. There is a distinct difference between what you were hired to do and what you do. Where do you add value to leadership, teams, partners, clients and the organization as a whole?

4. Be able to demonstrate your value. How do you do what you do, whom do you work with, how do you work with them and how does it add value to what audience. It is not enough to say you are a leader with 10+ years’ experience in infrastructure management – you must be able to prove your worth. This is done through demonstration by integrating the answers to these questions into a your resume, networking and interviewing.

5. Determine what about the next move will make a difference. Will it be a lateral move in a new industry? Will it be a career change? Will it be advancement to the next level? What are you missing now and what about that next step will fill that need?

6. How are you connected to that next level? Do you have contacts that work for that organization or field that could make introductions? Identify targets and work backwards to find a path.

7. Clarify goals, know your outcomes, expectations and the actions you are willing to do to meet your goals. Would you like to make a change in six months? Are you just fishing? Would increasing your network and finding out more information about opportunities be enough to satisfy the itch? What do you want and what will you settle for?

8. Get your resume ready – if a contact asks for your resume, just to look at or possibly pass on, you want to be able to take advantage of that immediately.

Subtlety

Your security could be jeopardized by overt changes in patterns or behaviors. If you never left for lunch and now you leave every other day for networking lunches, it could raise a red flag. Remember, subtlety will allow you to test the waters while not cutting off your lifeboat.

1. Start reconnecting with contacts that might have fallen off a bit. A short little note to check in and see how things are going with them or their organization, it has been a while since you talked. An email directly or through LinkedIn is a great way to restart conversations.

2. Review your brand. Look at your LinkedIn profile – what does it say about you? This can be tricky when employed but looking for other opportunities. Make subtle changes to your LinkedIn that, while still supporting your current organization, you begin to highlight your value and contributions.

*Make sure that the “notify connections” is turned to “No” 

3. After identifying organizations or contacts, build your network. Connect on LinkedIn with people that work for a targeted company. Review your contacts and notice if you have a strong network to help you reach that new level. If you find that you are very narrow in your connections, branch out to others who are doing what you want to do or could be a potential point of reference.

4. Begin adding value to your connections. Share articles that have value for the industry, clients or position. Share business information that would be helpful for your contacts. Start reestablishing yourself as a value provider. Scroll through your LinkedIn news feed and like or share relevant articles. Most articles on online sites offer a share button, use it for LinkedIn as it is the most prominent business site.

5. Gently feel out your contacts for leads. After reestablishing communications, ask questions or drop ideas in subtle ways. For example, during a conversation you might mention that you had read something about a certain position and that sounded really interesting to you, have they ever heard of an opportunity around your location that might fit that? Mention that you still like where you are, but that just seemed very interesting and might make you think twice about where you are.

6. Be able to sell yourself gently in conversations. When you meet someone who works for a targeted company, ask them what it is like, that you have always heard such good things about the organization.

If you ask about culture, respond with something along the lines of, “wow, that sounds terrific, I would love to continue to do XYZ, maybe at a higher level, but in that type of environment would be great.”

If you ask about their position, respond with something along the lines of “That sounds ideal, I like where I am but if I had an opportunity to redefine my job, it would be very much in line with what you are doing.”

At the end of each, if it feels comfortable, you can slip in with a smile, “hey, if there is ever an opening let me know”

7. For contacts that you trust, send them your resume. There is a subtle art to this and sending the resume does not come first. First, contact them and inform them you are looking to update it to reflect where you are now, you can even add you want to be poised if an opportunity arises in your organization. Tell them as they are someone you trust and value, would they mind reviewing your resume and giving you feedback. Once you get permission, then send it – in confidence.

Here is the thing – you are not asking their feedback so much as getting your resume in front of them. Remember strategy #8? Your resume should already be completed and written in a way that demonstrates your value for where you want to go. This will help your contacts see you in the way you want them to, not what they assume from how they have known you. You are re-establishing yourself with your connections.

8. Start attending networking opportunities. You are attending as a representative of your organization in your current role; however, it gives you the chance to listen for opportunities and increase your network. Ask more about the people you meet rather than talking about yourself. Build relationships as a value-based contributor.

9. Volunteering is a great way to network. Find something that aligns with a passion of yours that way it is not focused solely on making connections, but also doing something that give you value.
Strategically placing small seeds will give you chance to explore opportunities in a non-pressure way while giving your current role or responsibilities the attention and respect that they deserve.

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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 and their leadership and teams to identify, strengthen and effectively communicate their brand, engagement, commitment and most importantly – their value – by learning and leveraging LinkedIn, 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 Career Polish how we can help you.

Build Better Business Relationships With 2 Simple Steps

coffee meeting

How many times have you met someone through networking or business connections and want to build a business relationship with them? What is an almost knee jerk action to do so – invite them for a coffee meeting (or lunch/drinks/dinner/etc).

Before you do, let me give you the two steps to dramatically improve your budding relationship:

1. Stop wasting their time
2. Know your why

I used to get asked for coffee meetings a lot. Used to – now I rarely have them.

For one thing, I don’t drink coffee, but more importantly – they were a huge waste of time. The person either had no idea what they wanted to talk about or they wanted to sell me the entire time.

My secret in killing the coffee meetings – I started asking people why they wanted to meet. It is amazing to me the number of people who cannot answer that question. Mostly I get a stammering close to, ‘so we can learn more about each others business.’

Not to be unkind, or rude, yet this is a media age: look up my LinkedIn, my website, my articles; email me to start a conversation. Requesting me to commit to the most time consuming event – of scheduling an outside meeting – to find out what I do is nutty.

Even if they have an idea of what I do and wanted to schedule a coffee meeting ‘to find out more’ or ‘get clarification’, I would ask them – right there on the phone or in the email –what is it they would like to know?

It can really take the wind out of a coffee meeter’s sails when you fill them in either right there on the phone or by email thereby eliminating their whole reason for getting together.

I cut to the chase to eliminate time wasters.

I am very happy for the coffee meeters – those that seem to have an endless supply of time on their hands to joyfully go around town and drink lots of java, then have lots of lunches followed by lots of cocktails or dinners.

I do not have that kind of time.

I am not special or better than anyone else in my network or business circles – all of our time is valuable. I have a thing – I will not waste your time and you are not going to waste mine. It is very simple.

Coffee meetings, or lunches, dinners – anything outside the office – may not be the most conducive to your audience. Perhaps a half hour phone call is better for them. Be considerate and ask what is best for them and their schedule. It is not all about you. You may be dying to get out of the office; but some of us are not.

Knowing your why is critical. Before you even attempt to engage someone in any type of meeting – you must know your why. What is your agenda, what are you looking to get out of it and equally as important – what are you bringing to the table for them?

Relationships are give and take; if you have nothing to give what is their reason for going? Be clear when you request time with the other person, give them the purpose.

Sometimes you may not have an exact why. For example perhaps you have met someone in networking that you think there might be good synergy between your businesses. This is your why, yet you should explain why you think there is potential synergy. How could you help each other. No one is going to jump at the chance to meet with you because you have a golden book of business for them with nothing in return.

Perhaps your why is information. If you are breaking into a business and you know of this person and are looking for advise – be honest and tell them. Do not try the ‘get to know each other’ bit when you are looking for an hour of schooling. That is disrespectful and trickery.

Do not feel as though you are being rude by asking them to qualify the meeting. I once was given the name of a woman that a mutual friend said I should call, using their name, because we should connect. I was an idiot. I did not ask why. But she did! When I called her up I told her our mutual friend had given me her name and said we should connect.

Her response was, “That’s nice – why?”

I was stumped. I told her that I honestly had no idea and apologized for intruding and wasting her time. She was very kind and told me no problem and that if I found that we had a mutual business interest perhaps we could reconnect then.

I ran into her a year later, luckily she did not remember me, and we had a great conversation. We did have many shared interests and we began to speak frequently. I did tell her about the first meeting we ever had and how it had really helped me. Sometimes looking like an idiot can be a great learning experience.

On behalf of your business and networking community – I gently request that before you type up that email or make that call to know your why and offer options that do not waste their time. We thank you in advance and look forward to hearing from you.

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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 and their leadership and teams to identify, strengthen and effectively communicate their brand, engagement, commitment and most importantly – their value – by learning and leveraging LinkedIn, 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 Career Polish and what we can do to help you.

What Hiring Managers & Recruiters Won’t Tell You: Stop Being a Whiner

no whine

I can look at a resume and tell you what job the person loved, which one they hated and if they are still ticked off about looking for a job. You can use all the keywords and phrases you want, but that anger or frustration still comes through.

It is not just what you say; it is how you say it. This is translated through the written word and verbal communication.

This is proven in our daily interactions frequently. Think of a time that you sent a written message to a friend or significant other and they responded in a way that was completely off the wall and contrary to your meaning.

Better yet, try gently telling your girlfriend or wife in a very even, soft monotone that you want to not go out to dinner because, “I think we need to watch what we eat.” That “we” will get you. I will bet dollars to donuts that if you meant that you want to eat healthier that is not how she is going to translate that sentence. Have fun with that.

Job searching is not fun. It can be humiliating, frustrating, aggravating, gut-wrenching and exhausting. You may still be smarting from having to look in the first place. Being placed in this situation, voluntarily or not, is much like a death or divorce and as such, you go through the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

A company downsized, they let you go unfairly or they finagled their way of managing you out – it is not fair and it really ticks you off. You have every right to be mad. I encourage you to get mad, go for it, let it all out. Do it once and do it big – alone in the privacy of your own home. Get it out of your system. Give yourself permission to be mad, then let it go.

It is important for your mental health to allow yourself to be angry but even more important to let it go. It is not healthy to hold on to that anger. It also sabotages your job search efforts. People can pick up on that and it makes them uncomfortable. No one wants to hire the angry person.

It is natural to want to explain, to rally others to your side. You want to feel vindicated, understood or be the good guy who was wronged garnering more and more support for your side as you go to make you feel better.

The problem with this is – no one cares in the business world. It was a business decision. Take the personal feelings out of it and remind yourself that it was business.

If it was a hideous boss that manipulated to get you out of the company, well, they are an a-hole and they will get theirs. Don’t sweat it, it will come. And really, you do not want to be the person to deliver the karma. When it does come, it will come from someone or something much bigger than you that will give them what they deserve.

I had this happen to me and for a long time I about bit my tongue off taking the high road. Karma finally did step in about a year later and by that time, I had let it go. Although, it did please me in a small, dark place deep inside me – I’ll be honest. But I was also glad that it was not me because I could have lost credibility by looking like a whiner or disgruntled employee screaming, “It’s not fair.”

How to Eliminate the Whine from Your Job Searching

 

1. Your Resume – Descriptions

Even if you absolutely hated a job, put on your big person shoes and take a different approach. There is a benefit to every job you had – otherwise someone would not have paid you to do what you did. Find the benefit in the job. How did you add value? How did you contribute? What did you learn?

Find the positives and write about it from that perspective – the positive. This will change your tone and allow you to make minor changes in your verbiage that will make a huge improvement in your communication.

One dead giveaway that you hated a job is lack of information. If you worked for a company for five years and have two bullet points – guess what…. Really dig to find out the value. Think about who you worked with, how did you work with them, what did you do, how did you do it and how did it add value to others?

Even if you worked at the most monotonous job there is, you may have found a way to make your life easier in performing your tasks. Guess what, those are improvements. Write about them from the improvement perspective.

2. Your Resume – Departures

Often people want to state that it was not their fault for the departure. Do not do it. The resume is not the place to talk about why you left. Save it for the interview. Then you can leverage the powerful tools of tone and inflection to convey the right message. Often applications ask why you left a position – give a short answer not a dissertation. Plant closing, company downsize, recruited for advanced position.

3. Craft Your Message

This is the hardest part. You need to find a way to deliver the message of being let go yet put it in a positive way. No, you cannot tell people that your boss was an a-hole, even if it is true.

Downsizing or closures are easier to deliver, a simple, “Unfortunately, the company downsized; however, this is a great opportunity that allows me to bring xyz to a new organization and really make an impact” can be all you need to say. No need to add “because they wanted to bring younger people in with less experience so they could pay them less and not pay me what I am worth and I hope they burn in hell” in between the two thoughts.

Quitting or getting let go is a little more bitter pill to swallow or deliver. Try as hard as you can to be positive and deliver it in a non-demeaning, professional manner. “There was a change in structure or direction and felt that brining someone on with a background in this direction would be an immediate value; however, this allows me to get back to xyz, which is my greatest strengths and passion.”

The critical element of your message is ending it in a way that focuses back on your, in a positive way, highlighting your strengths, skills and value.

Practice your message over and over and over again, in front of a mirror and whenever you are alone until it comes easily, naturally, professional and positive. Watch your facial expressions and body language when practicing in front of a mirror to identify and eliminate any tells.

Practice it infinitum and eventually your mind shift will be to see it as a positive.

4. Networking

It is very easy to get comfortable with people you are networking with and your connections leading to a comfort in going into the gory details of your departure or job search. Stop that train before it leaves the station.

Your network is a professional network. Sure, you may drum up some sympathy, but in doing so you will not create any allies in helping you find a new position. They will get the impression that you are not ready.

If your network helps you in your search, they are putting their name out there and no one wants to tag their name to the angry person.

After the networking event, grab a bottle of wine (the good kind) and get with your partner or best friend as an accountability person and then let it all out. Set a limit to the whining – half an hour or one glass, whatever works for you.  Make sure your accountability person cuts you off on the whining and you get back to the positive.  The positive is you networked and remained professional!

5. Don’t Get Sucked Into Gossip

Unfortunately, there are those that love a good little bit of gossip or bad news. They may sound innocent enough with, “Oh, I’m so sorry, what happened?”

Answer this with your prepared message. The identifying bait for this type of person would come next. It can come in the form of, “I’ve always heard bad things about that company/manager” or “Did they tell you why?” or even as blatant as, “oh my gosh, tell me all about it!”

Do not take that bait. If they try to bait you to say something negative, do not bite. Remain upbeat and positive with a short statement putting an end to their probing. Smile and tell them that you are very excited to take on the next great adventure or opportunity. If they still try to probe, leave them. Politely excuse yourself to the rest room, to go get more networking chicken or that you just saw someone that you need to go speak to – just leave them.

6. Interviewing

This can be similar to the networking; however, there is intent in their probing rather than morbid gossip. Keep with your message and if you need to expand, do so in a way that is not disparaging to the company, managers or team member and end it on a positive for you. If you were fired, take ownership, let them know what you learned and how you incorporate that into your strengths.

Everyone makes mistakes, organizations downsize, companies close and sometimes you have a horrible leader. It is life. This is one event in your life, not the defining moment. You define yourself in how you learn, grow and move on from this event.

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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 and their leadership and teams to identify, strengthen and effectively communicate their brand, engagement, commitment and most importantly – their value – by learning and leveraging LinkedIn, 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 Career Polish and how can help you.

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