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?

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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. 

 

Write Your Resume Because Your Mother Said So

mom-because-i-said-so

 

When my son Jake was growing up, “because I said so” was not – in his mind – a valid reason for a request.

He was, and is, stubborn, intelligent, quick witted and a challenge-any-establishment-kind of kid. As he gets older, I can appreciate these qualities, most of the time. Of course there are still times that I have had enough of the challenge and the old, “because your mother said so” comes out signaling an end of discussion.

What I found most helpful when dealing with my son was to explain, in a manner which he understood, the why emphasizing the benefit to him.  Of course, there was normally another benefit, but that was hidden behind the ‘him’ reason because, quite frankly, that is the only reason he really cared about.

For example cooking.

All my boys learned to cook.  It was a requirement. Once a week they were responsible for planning and executing a meal.  Not a pop tarts with a side of mac and cheese meal, a real meal.  I taught them how to budget and shop for the necessary food; prepare and serve; and clean up after the meal.

My reasons were it gave me a break from cooking meals and eliminated any whining about what was for dinner. I also did not want to hear years later from a potential daughter-in-law that her husband never cooks.  That would be on her because my boys were going to learn to fend for themselves.

The reason I gave them: girls really like a guy who can cook and cooks for them.  Worked like a charm.  Of course, years later my son told me I was right, girls loved that he could cook; and his friends were also quite impressed with his budget/cooking savvy.

So what does this have to do with your resume?  A slightly odd parallel, but one nonetheless. You are learning to fend for yourself in writing your own resume.  During job searching and networking, people really like a person who knows their value, how they can contribute to others and can communicate it clearly for them to understand.

That is the baseline of your resume – to discover and be able to communicate your value – even if no one ever reads it.

Your resume is the baseline for everything for career transitions, whether looking for a change in industries or moving up in your current profession.  You have to know what you are cooking, what ingredients go into it and how to present it before anyone is going to be daring enough to take a bite.

There is a lot of preparation that goes into a meal. You have to know what ingredients you need, have a budget for the food, plan cooking times knowing some items will take longer than others, understand what seasonings or add ins are going to make or break each dish.

That is your resume.  A detailed look at what you have done in the past knowing the intricacies that make you unique and valuable.

Simply giving a description of what you were hired to do in the past is like opening a can of beans and plopping it in a bowl and calling it a side.

Start breaking your position down into pieces. Start with a general statement: what did you do?  Let’s stay with the cooking theme, and I am going to be very generic on this as it is an attempt at a fun example.

  • What did you do? I was a cook.
  • What does that mean, what did you do as a cook?  I prepared food.
  • How, what was involved? I had to get all the ingredients, plan and prepare the meals.
  • Who did you work with? I had staff that helped prepare and order.
  • How did you work with them? I oversaw some to make sure we had an accurate inventory and when to order; I worked with others making sure they got their items prepared at the right time before and during the dinner rush.
  • How did you do that? I met with the order staff weekly to go through all the items, plan meals and prepare orders. The assistants I trained them on how to cook, prepare and present food.
  • Who did that benefit and how? Our customers – they had good food; the company – it made more money; me – it gave me more time; my staff – they did better at their jobs, more efficient and more skills so they got better reviews and some moved up into better cooking positions.

Go deep to start having the ‘who did you work with, how, what did you do and what was the benefit’ conversations.  This will reveal your value and allow you to translate that to a document that will be easily understood by the reader.

But what if no one ever reads it, like I said before? Not a problem.

Once you detail out your value, you will be able to communicate it to any audience.  The parameters of the format above are similar to the behavioral based interview style The STAR Method: Situation, Task, Action, Result.  Most interviews are behaviorally based.  Having completed the resume exercise you will be fully versed and comfortable answering behavioral based questions.

When networking you will be able to answer the question ‘what do you do’ from a value perspective which will generate much more interest than responding with simply your title. You will be able to translate your value in a manner that your audience will understand which will engage them.

Writing your resume is a great exercise to rediscover and reengage with the things you love to do, what ignites your passion, what drives you, what is fun for you to do and what you do best.  It gives you a little spark and jazzes you by remembering that you are pretty darn good at what you do. It helps you better communicate with your network or potential employers so they can clearly understand your value and see how it would benefit them – translating to wanting to have you on their team.

If those reasons are not enough for you, write your resume because your mother said so, or at least because Jake’s mom said so.

 

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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 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.

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