Branding Fail: Putting A Bandana On My Dog Did Not Make Him A Pirate

pirate bandit

If you ever saw my dog Bandit while on a walk, you would think he was quite an intimidating fellow.  His Great Pyrenees/Lab sister towers over him, but he struts like he is ten feet tall and bullet proof.  If he sees another animal, he puffs up and gives the impression that, by golly, it is a good thing he is leashed or he might just go after them like a Tasmanian devil.

Then of course, there is reality.

He is a cupcake.

He barks at hot air balloons; a fly buzzing around him makes him duck his tail and hide; toads fascinate and frighten him; delivery drivers are the greatest threat to mankind until they offer a belly rub, then he is a sprawled out pile of jell-o.  The dog has literally jumped at his own gas and shadow.  A cupcake.

But I can’t take him in nature twice a day and let the other animals know he is a cupcake. Those squirrels can be quite vicious in their teasing and we don’t want the skinks and toads gaining up on him.

So what do I do? I get him a bada$$ bandana – a black pirate bandana with skulls and everything to complete the look.  But that bandana does not make him tough, we have to sell it.

While on our walks and he begins his ‘routine’ I back him up. I tell him he’s a good guard dog, to stay put and even make it look like I am struggling holding him back. I say, “I know you want to go tear that apart but I won’t let you.”  To all the other woodland creatures, I am the only thing holding him back and saving their certain doom.

What on earth does this Dr. Doolittle-ish tale have to do with personal branding? Personal branding is all about positioning yourself the way you want people to see or get you.

The bandana on Bandit – that is your title.  You title is nearly meaningless.  Wearing a pirate bandana did not make him a pirate. You are not your title. Your title does not define you. What is important is what you do, how you do it and how it provides value to others. Titles rarely convey that.

His title is guard dog, not cupcake.  His title does not convey his ‘image’. Our charades during walks, well that is what people see.  It is how he presents himself. I also let him go chase after things once in a while. As he darts off at full speed, I know that if what he is chasing turns around, he will run for the hills and that he is good for a “I’m gonna getcha” run of less than a minute.  So about 30 seconds into it, I make a big show of calling him back. I help my dog save face.

Bandit truly believes he is the biggest, baddest guard dog around. He puts it out there. You can’t fake it like my dog. My dog also thinks he is a pirate.

What are you putting out there? Now, granted he relies on me to help sell the story…but are you selling your own story?

This part belongs to you. It is the how you do things. If you tell people you are passionate about a certain industry or topic yet cannot muster above monotone when speaking about it – you have brand clash. If you portray that you are an amazing listener yet when networking ask no questions – you have brand clash. Your actions define you. How do you back up your brand?

Do you use words that resonate with you and the brand you want to portray? Do you convey value or duties? Do you engaged, network, with others to build your brand?

You can’t be a pirate by wearing a skull and crossbones bandana. If you are going to be a pirate, be a pirate. Be your own pirate, whether that be Pirates of the Caribbean or Black Sails. Be a pirate in owning your own brand – get it shipshape then weigh anchor and hoist the mizzen!

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A little about me: I do what I love: help people break out of a suffocating corporate existence and into a position and place that renews and celebrates their brilliance.

As the Founder and Principle of Career Polish, Inc., a national career personal branding firm, I am an Executive Brand Strategist, Resume Writer and Career Coach. I work with individual clients, companies, leadership and teams to identify, strengthen and effectively communicate their brand, engagement, commitment and most importantly – their value – by learning and leveraging personal branding as applied to LinkedIn, resumes, networking, communication, relationship management, presence and influence.

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

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

 

 

 

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Enhance Your Career By Using LinkedIn As A Match, Not A Flamethrower

Strike a Match on LinkedIn

 

I love LinkedIn. I am a huge fan of a platform that allows you to communicate your brand with so many enhancements to build business relationships. It is a critical and effective business tool.

Yet, with any tool, the key to success is knowing all the features, capabilities, limitations and most importantly how to use it.

  • The features include a great profile, experience section, headline, profile picture, groups and more.
  • The capabilities are the ability to convey your value and voice in a single site.
  • The limitations are the character limits and layering of options.

I am a DIY kinda girl. I like laying flooring and building things. I have a garage full of tools so how about we use these for an analogy.

Let’s say that you want to use LinkedIn to make connections and secure a new position. It is like laying tile.

If I were going to lay tile, I would make sure I have enough tile to cover the area, spacers, grout, sponge, water and a saw. I have measured out the area and laid my pattern. I have pre-planned and assimilated all the necessary equipment and items for the job, just like you have filled in your LinkedIn profile  within the parameters showcasing your voice and value.

But, if you are a DIY-er like me, you might notice that I left one little thing out – what kind of saw. What if I had a jig saw? You can’t lay tile with a jigsaw – you need a tile saw. (I guess you technically could – but that is an argument best left to Bob Villa.)

My point is just because you have a tool doesn’t mean it is the right one for the job – translation for our example: just because one method of using LinkedIn has boosted results according to one person does not mean it will work for you. Like email blasts.

This morning I received a very polite opening letting me know that the sender had gathered my information from my LinkedIn profile. They then proceeded to give me quite the narrative of their career highlights, including attaching their resume, with the request to pass on their information to our hiring manager in hopes of finding out more about our company. They are looking for a high level IT project management position.

They may have gotten my information from LinkedIn but they sure didn’t read anything else besides my email.

This is a case of using LinkedIn for career advancement like a flamethrower instead of a match. I do not recommend blasting an email such as this blindly to hundreds of people on LinkedIn. At best, it is annoying.  Be selective, research the companies and people. Find connections and then use LinkedIn as a match to strike up a conversation. Flamethrowers burn bridges, matches ignite relationships.

 

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

As the Founder and Principle of Career Polish, Inc., a national career personal branding firm, I am an Executive Brand Strategist, Resume Writer and Career Coach. I work with individual clients, companies, leadership and teams to identify, strengthen and effectively communicate their brand, engagement, commitment and most importantly – their value – by learning and leveraging personal branding as applied to LinkedIn, resumes, networking, communication, relationship management, presence and influence.

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

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

6 Reasons We Hate Your LinkedIn Connection Requests & How To Make Us Love Them

LinkedIn Connection Requests We Hate

To build a network you need to connect to people.  To connect with them you have to meet them.  On LinkedIn, more often than not, you need to send connection requests.

Sounds easy enough, LinkedIn even makes it easy for you providing you with an opening:

“I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.”

Yes, it is boring and a template.  Yet, in a pinch it will work.  I get a lot of the template connection requests and I pass no judgement on any of them.

I understand some people are still getting their sea legs on LinkedIn and some may feel uncomfortable scripting something to a professional that specializes in LinkedIn.  Some are just busy and this is an easy, fast method.

Let’s face it, if people did not connect using this opening I doubt LinkedIn would still be providing it for us.

That being said, I do not recommend using the generic template.  It is best to craft a personal message (which I will discuss in short order) however, there is a line.

These next six examples cross that line.  They crossed it two time zones ago.  These are the types of messages that drive people away.

1. I Am Not Looking To Buy

This is another type of template – a cold, uninformed, annoying sales pitch of anything.  I do not know you, I am not going to buy from you because you clogged up my LinkedIn request with:

“I can save you (pick from the following): money, time, get you more prospects, get you a better job, reduce your stress, blah, blah, blah.

Nope.  Delete.

2. My Name Is Important

Back in the day (as my son would say) when we used phones mounted on the wall and no Caller ID, we had to answer the call and then determine if it was a sales call.  For my house, it was easy.  My maiden name is Teepe.

Yep, Teepe – c’mon, I’ve heard them all – the wigwam and toilet paper jokes.  Yeah, it was a blast growing up with that last name.  The one benefit is I could always tell a solicitor because they did not know how to pronounce it.

Misspelling someone’s name in a connection request is the same as butchering their name in person.

My name is pretty simple – Lisa.  Can’t really go wrong there, although here is a trick: I use my middle initial in my profile.  When you use something to automatically fill in the first name, for me it will populate “Lisa K”

My dad was and will be the only person in this world who ever called me Lisa K.

3. Do You Even Know What I Do?

This goes along with number one, but to a different degree.  These connection requests seem like they are more personable because they are not obvious mass copies; however, there is one problem: they did not read your profile.

They are sending you something that demonstrates they did not even look at your profile. Case in point: I had a connection request from someone offering their services as a LinkedIn profile writer.  Really?  Even if they had just looked at my title they might have seen that, gee whiz, that is what I do!

These are the ‘personal’ messages selling rawhide bones to cats and catnip to dogs.

4. Shotgun Recruiter

I have a great deal of respect for recruiters, I really do. I do not have a great deal of respect for recruiters who send out blast messages.

I have received connection requests from recruiters saying they have a great job opportunity for me…in some obscure field I have no experience in whatsoever.  That is cheap, throwing a bunch of requests out there with a potential hook to see what sticks to the wall.

As for me, I love what I do.  I also have a pretty cool boss and my office mates are three crazy dogs. Top that work environment!

5. This Would Not Pass Mrs. Traycoff’s Class

Mrs. Traycoff was my high school English teacher.  A very tiny yet powerful woman who would perch at the front of the class on her three legged stool wrapped up in a shawl or blanket and with one gaze she could stop you in your tracks and make you fear getting an adverb and adjective mixed up. I loved Mrs. Traycoff.

Connection requests with bad grammar, horrible spelling  and just no sense to your sentence structure equates to spam or someone who has not grasp the whole communication thing yet.

6. This Is Not A Party line

Do not hit on a potential connection.  This is not an online dating site. It is creepy and wrong.  Just stop it.

To take your connection request up a notch from the standard template do this one thing:

 

Think like a person.

 

If you were meeting this person in-person, what would you say?  How would you introduce yourself? LinkedIn is a digital handshake.

“I noticed that we have 13 connections in common, I thought it would make sense for us to connect”

“I see that you and I are both a member of Community Volunteer Group, I don’t know how I have missed meeting you…..”

What do you have in common – people, organizations, schools, passions, past employer – find it and mention it.

Maybe you have read an article that someone wrote or a presentation they gave, that is your opening.

“I really liked your article XYZ and would appreciate connecting with you on LinkedIn.”

These are all examples, but the most important thing is to make them your own.

Remember, you are just a person digitally standing in front of another person asking them to connect to you. Be yourself and you will do just fine.

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

As the Founder and Principle of Career Polish, Inc., a national career personal branding firm, I am an Executive Brand Strategist, Resume Writer and Career Coach. I work with individual clients, companies, leadership and teams to identify, strengthen and effectively communicate their brand, engagement, commitment and most importantly – their value – by learning and leveraging personal branding as applied to LinkedIn, resumes, networking, communication, relationship management, presence and influence.

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

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

 

It Is Useless To Job Search During The Holiday Season

santa-holiday-job-search-tips

Without a plan, that is.

I do not know who decided that job searching during the holidays was a bad idea. The origin does not matter, I only wish the idea would stop perpetuating.

There are plenty of benefits and considerations about searching during the holiday. Although some searches slow down or are temporarily delayed during this time, there are plenty of opportunities still available and interviews to score. Here are five considerations:

  1. Some companies have a need due to a recent “reorganization” at the end of the year or by staff giving notice to take advantage of time off coupled with holiday closing. Candidates will be needed to fill these needs at the start of the new year.
  2. There is less competition because so many take the ill advice of taking a full break during the holidays.
  3. Holiday hiring has its own timeline. It requires flexibility and patience to accommodate staff taking time off before they lose it at the end of the year, holiday parties and companies closing for a day.
  4. If you do not hear by the end of the year it is not an automatic rejection. There are many factors coming into play, not only the ones mentioned above, but the human element of after the first of the year everyone reengaging to move forward.
  5. Fiscal year and budgets come into play so your start date could very well be after the new year, this could also work to your advantage in negotiating salary and benefits.

Leverage the opportunities at hand to not only spread merriment, but also spread the word you are ready and available for that next great opportunity! Here are four tips for conducting an active holiday search:

  1. This is the time for good cheer and many attendees at holiday events will welcome the opportunity to help you with your search or spread the word.
  2. There are more networking opportunities that come along with holidays – more events and more attendees. Think beyond company events to research and include Chambers of Commerce or professional associations, as well.
  3. Partner changing your strategy (attending more events) with changing your approach. Think of this push as growing your network instead of finding a job and it will increase your ability to enjoy the interactions much more. Added bonus – partner these two with a goal of helping those you meet.
  4. Use holidays as an excuse to reconnect with your network and gently remind them you are searching. Send holiday notes, cards or emails wishing them well and casually mention, in an upbeat tone, that you are continuing to search for your next great opportunity and know it will be coming soon. If your contacts have helped you in the past, be sure to thank them.

But what if you are burnt? What if you have been networking, getting the word out and been active in your searching to no avail? You cannot muster the enthusiasm or energy to go caroling for opportunities. You may not be in the mindset for active searching; however, holidays are still a good time to passively search.

What I call passive search is setting a strategy. If all your holiday deeds are done, you may have more time on your hands. Take advantage of this by reevaluating and refocusing your job search strategy. It requires quiet time, index cards, pen and eggnog (or your choice of beverage). Here are five action items to help refocus and evaluate:

  1. Review your resume. Do not look at it as yours, evaluate it as a hiring manager. Does it speak to the position you seek and the value you bring in a clear way? Grab a glass of eggnog and a pen and start slashing and dashing.
  2. Review your LinkedIn profile. This is a different conversation than your resume. For more about the differences – check out this article: I speak 7 Languages – None are Right for Writing a LinkedIn Profile Are you speaking to your target audience? Is your value, passion and personality coming through? Print it out, grab another glass of eggnog, pen and slash and dash.
  3. What do you offer? Here is a great brainstorming exercise that always works for me in removing blocks and guiding me to clarification. Grab a stack of index cards (or if you prefer notebook/electronic document – one card would equal one line), glass of eggnog and a pen.Only write one thought per index card. Start with the obvious: Degree, years of experience, specific skills – but just one per card. Write as many as you can think of, do not limit yourself and there are no bad ideas. After you have written as many as you can, take each one and now expand on it. Write as much as you can and if another thought comes up – write a new card.
  1. What are you looking for? You can either do the same process with index cards as above. Begin with a single thought per card or line. The type of company, size, industry. Then start getting into the nitty gritty: what do you want to do, how, what about the environment. One thought per card. Then create another stack of cards – what do you not want. Keep going after you think you are done, get it down to the bone. Anything that pops in your head write it down. Things like parking, is there a gym nearby, whatever the smallest details you can think. Once you have completed each list take a break. Then come back and review. You might be surprised at some of the things that come out of this.
  1. What about your network, who can help you and how? Grab more index cards and refill that eggnog and start writing one name per card. Think of people in your network – not just work but personal networks. People at the gym, clubs, organizations, kids sports groups – anyone you can think of write them down. Then on the back of each card, write down how they can help you.Next, review all the ‘hows’ and create an action plan. Reach out to Joey at the gym and ask him about xyz. Connect with Joan on LinkedIn and request an introduction to Jerry.

Take advantage of the opportunities that the holidays offer for both a passive and active job search and with a little effort, action and persistence you might just be ringing in a new job after the new year!

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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. 

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. 

 

 

What Always Worked Doesn’t Always Work in Job Searching

changes-in-technology

I remember in my twenties in college when I lived off cheesy garlic bread from the little Italian restaurant around the corner from my dorm, few hours of sleep each night and carried a full load of classes while working a part time job and a full commitment of games, practices and workouts as a member of the dance squad.

I also remember when my son was younger and played three sports taking him to every practice, game and activity; working a full time job; caring for a family member battling cancer; managing a house and four dogs.

Where oh where is all that energy now?  There are days I look around and think, ‘I used to be able to do so much more!’

There are also times that I attempt to do something and think, ‘this used to be a lot easier’ with things like house repairs or climbing flights of stairs.  Age is a wonderful thing, I used to be able to leg press three times my body weight, now I sound like a percussion section every time I stand up!

I recently embarked on some house repairs and updates.  Nothing I really had not done before, yet this time it seemed more time consuming and a bit more of a hassle.  Nothing I could really put my finger on, but I did find myself saying, ‘it always worked before when I did this or that.’

That was the light bulb.  Just because something always worked in the past does not mean it will work again today or in the future.  We need to adapt.  Some of the projects were more difficult because the strength in my hands is not what it used to be.  Some were easier because there are better and neater tools and gadgets now.

If you are job searching, are you applying the ‘always worked in the past’ techniques?  Many of my clients had never had a resume, nor needed one.  It was a matter of a handshake or conversation.  The idea of having a branding statement if only to help define what it is they are selling (their value) to better communicate it to their audience is a complete unknown.

Resumes of the past were compiled of a desire statement “I am looking for a job that enables me to use my skills and abilities to help a company and its clients grow.”

The problem is, no one cares what you want.  What the reader wants to know is what can you do for them?  And no one really believed that line anyway.  Today you need to immediately identify what value you bring to the organization demonstrating you understand their challenges or pain points and know how to deliver the solutions.

Resumes of the past also detailed job duties – what you were hired to do.  It was very easy to transcribe your job description into your resume as bullet points.  Today, people do not care what you were hired to do, they want to know what you did.

Just because you list that your job duty is to manage a certain aspect does not mean you are any good at it.  How do you manage it, who do you work with, how do you work with them, who benefits and how demonstrates your value and expertise on the subject.

Networking in the past may have been telling your family that you are looking for a job.

Today you need to be more stealth in your approach.  Understand the value you add, what you want to do and learn to communicate it in a way that each of your different audiences can not only understand it, but can identify it when they hear others talk about it.  This way they can immediately say, “I know just the person you need to talk to!”

The biggest “always worked” action that I am on a persona mission to obliterate is assigning yourself a title.  Stop introducing yourself as your title.  That is not you!  That is the label that a company gave to you, it does not define you.

Instead, when someone asks you what you do – tell them what you really do: the value you add to people’s lives.  How do you solve problems for people, do you provide a service that makes their life easier or help them achieve a goal or desire? What is it that you really do?  That is what people care about, not your title.  It is also how people will remember you, refer and recommend you.

Change is scary yet there is a lot of help out there to help you take one small step at a time.  My recommendation – carve out a little private time to go through that last paragraph – what do you really do?  Dig deep, have a conversation and in the end you will be well on your way to finding a whole new way of communicating, job searching and networking that actually works for 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 articles Click the “Yes Please!” button on the right.

 

 

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. 

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 ★