The One Question Almost Everyone Asks & Hardly Anyone Answers

Interview - how do they know you are still interested

Building a network, expanding a business, searching for a job or just being neighborly, what is one of the first questions we are asked or ask others?

What do you do?

It seems simple enough and I bet a lot of people would say that they do answer that question. What is your normal response? I’ll bet dollars to donuts it starts with “I’m a …..”

If that is your answer, you are not answering the question. Oh no you are not.

The question is what do you DO, not what is your TITLE.

Titles are boring, snippet summaries. They do not really tell what you do – except in the case of a pediatric neurosurgeon. In that case, yes, it does sum it up nicely.

But for the rest of us not saving the lives of tiny humans, our title does not – or more accurately – should not define us.

What we do is bring value to others in a unique way. It is part of what we are as a person. A title does not reflect a person. It reflects a job.  Many people can have the same title yet be on opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of value, style and ability.

Take me for example. To say I am a resume writer is partially accurate. I do write resumes. I also write LinkedIn profiles. So should I say I am a resume and LinkedIn profile writer? Nope, still just the tip of the iceberg. I also coach and train on networking, leadership, communication, interviewing, negotiation, branding….and let’s not overlook that I do not just work with those who are unemployed. I work with leaders going to the next level, those who want to improve their effectiveness where they are, athletes, coaches, trainers, motivators, entrepreneurs, heads of corporations and more. I build confidence, bring out their inner rock star, support, give a little kick in the toushy when needed, challenge, celebrate… Saying I am a resume writer does not encompass all of that.

Oh, and let’s not forget – there are many others that are resume writers, coaches etc. What makes me different? Well, my work is comprehensive not volume based. I get to know my clients. I don’t rely solely on questionnaires. I really give a damn about my clients and their success. Our work is interactive, they have skin in the game. I am tenacious in getting them to where they want to be. I love what I do and bring fun into the equation. I have real conversations, ask tough questions, support them through the process and the best feeling in the world for me is when someone reads what we have put together and they say, “Holy crap – I’m awesome!”

Replying with “I’m a resume writer” really falls short of all that now doesn’t it?

So what is it that you do? How do you do it better than anyone else? And yes, you do what you do better than anyone else. How? By the way you do the thing you do, maybe by your approach or mindset. Whatever it is that makes you awesome, own it by giving yourself permission to say so. Once you figure that out, NOW you can get down to really answering the question.

So tell me, what do you do?

 

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

As the Founder and Principal 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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Why Dumping a Resume/Bio in Your LinkedIn Summary is Killing Potential Conversations

road block stop

 

Do you know why someone is reading your LinkedIn profile? They want to get a sense of you: who you are, what you do and what you enjoy doing – in a professional context.

I heard it said that LinkedIn is a virtual handshake.  I think that is perfect.  Although it is a huge, digital platform, it is very business-personal because it is a one-on-one conversation between you and the person reading your profile.

The reader is imagining what your voice sounds like, how tall you are and all the little particulars about you based on the words you choose.  They are going beyond putting together the face with the name, they are filling in details.

The reader can look at your experience section or perhaps they have read your resume.  That is the business-business side of you.  LinkedIn is the business-personal side.  This is where your personality should shine through.  Instead of assumed I statements on the resume, you are speaking directly to the reader using I and me.  (i.e. resume: “Manage team of 30” – LinkedIn: “I manage a team of 30”)

You are beginning a business, networking relationship with the reader by digitally extending your hand and using your summary to say, “Hey, nice to meet you, let me tell you a little bit about myself”.  You are speaking directly to them, again, a one-on-one conversation.

Writing about yourself is hard.  I get it.  Even though branding is my passion and business, I cringe every time I have to put something together for myself when I lead training or for a speaking engagement.

The easy thing is popping your bio or resume into your LinkedIn. Just because it is easy does not mean that is the best plan.  For your experience section, it is doable – just remember to insert the I’s and me’s so it is more of a conversation and not so standoffish.

However, for your summary, dropping in your bio or resume is a terrible plan.

Bad to Worse

Imagine you are at a networking event.  Go ahead, close your eyes to visualize – no, wait, if you do that you won’t be able to get the rest of this.  Scratch that.  Keep reading and imagine an event with 25 people or so.  It is business professional environment, pretty lively with everyone getting to know each other.

Now imagine a professional looking person walking towards you and extending their hand, introducing themselves at Pat.  You tell them “Nice to meet you Pat, so tell me about yourself, what you do.”

Now imagine this response:

“I have 15 years’ experience as a financially savvy, customer experience-oriented Operations Manager with a passion for success.  I have proven success in process efficiency in manufacturing and am proficient in Windows, Access, PowerPoint and Excel.”

Did you stop listening at customer-experience-oriented? Probably, because that is not normally how people communicate in a face-to-face, relaxed business environment.  It is boring, it is memorized, it is robotic and not a person.

This is the resume dump in your summary. The distance puts up roadblocks in starting a conversation.

Let’s set the stage again for a different response:

Professional Pat comes over, handshake giving their name. You say: “Nice to meet you Pat, so tell me about yourself, what you do.”

“Pat has 15 years’ experience as a financially savvy, customer experience-oriented Operations Manager with a passion for success.  Pat has proven success in process efficiency in manufacturing and am proficient in Windows, Access, PowerPoint and Excel.”

Whoa!  Wait, what? Who is Pat? I thought I was talking to Pat but is Pat talking about a different Pat?  It feels like a SNL skit.  When I hear someone who talk about themselves in third person little buzzers and flashing lights go off in my head and I look for the quickest exit possible.

This is the bio dump in your summary.  This goes beyond roadblocks into the road was swallowed by a sink hole.

Do not take the easy way in dropping into your LinkedIn summary.  Take a few minutes to ask yourself:

  1. Who do I want to read my profile?
  2. What is important to them?
  3. What do I want them to know about me?

Write the answers to these questions down.  Then say it out loud as if you were standing in front of that person in a business, casual environment.

That, my friends, is your summary and one that will start great conversations!

 

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

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

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

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

Stop overlooking the one BLARING way your LinkedIn is hurting your job search

incognito

 

Incognito.  What a great word and one that is fun to say.  The dictionary defines incognito as:

incognito [in-kog-nee-toh, in-kog-ni-toh]

Adjective: having one’s identity concealed, as under an assumed name, especially to avoid notice or formal attentions.

Adverb: with the real identity concealed: to travel incognito.

Noun, plural incognitos: a person who is incognito, the state of being incognito, the disguise or character assumed by an incognito.

There is a lot of incognito in my world.  Many are looking for that next great step in their career while they are still employed.  They are performing an incognito job search.  They do not post their resume on job boards.  They communicate with their networks in a selective and professional manner so not to raise suspicion.  They even let companies that they contact know that they are performing a confidential search.

Very incognito.  Very super-secret, James Bond-ish  and slick cool.  Bravo incognito people!

But why – oh why, oh why, oh why are you blaring your intent on LinkedIn?

Oh no, you are not posting that you are looking for a job but your profile screams it!

Here are the two most common ways people subconsciously or inadvertently announce to the LinkedIn world they are looking for a job:

  1. Your summary sounds like a resume
  2. You make statements that one would make when looking for a job.

LinkedIn is not your resume

If your summary starts with “Dedicated Operations professional with over 15 years’ experience driving blah, blah, blah” your LinkedIn is a resume.  Don’t do this.  LinkedIn is a one-on-one conversation with the person/persons you want to read your profile.  If you talk in ‘resume’ language you kill the conversation – and you sound like you are looking for a job.

When you have a one-on-one conversation with another person, do you speak for yourself in the third person?

“Hi Peter, how are you today?”

“Peter is well today, how are you?”

No!  You do not talk like that to other people so why – oh, why, oh why, oh why are you using the third person in your LinkedIn profile?  Stop that.  It sounds weird and freaky.

Job searching statements

Statements within your LinkedIn profile that tell all your experience and value and how you look forward to bringing that to an employer are job search statements.  Great when you are openly looking for a job.  Bad when you have a job and are looking for a new job.

Here’s what those statements convey to the reader, in the words of my step-son Jesse, “once a poop-eater, always a poop-eater.”  He and I saw my little dog Lexi eat poop in the backyard.  A couple of days later she jumped up in his lap to give him kisses.  He held her at arm’s length saying she might have eaten poop.  I told him that she had been inside with me and had not, he responded with, “I don’t care, once a poop eater, always a poop eater. I’m not getting kisses from her.”

The meaning: if you will blatantly look for a job while employed with your current employer, you will do so when you work for them.  It is also disrespectful to your current employer.

The super-easy quick fix

Talk to your audience the same way you would in a business, casual professional environment.  Tell them where you are, what you do, how you bring value and how your past contributes to that value.

This will show respect for your company and allow you to cast more light on your skills, abilities and strengths in a positive, business manner.  It will also make you sound like a happy employee.  No one cherry picks the grumpy or unhappy employees.

Take a few minutes and read your profile – not as yourself, but as a potential employer.  Do you see any red flags?  If you do, they already have – time to fix them!

 

Need more help? Here is an article that will be helpful in cleaning up your profile:  The 2 Step Process to Write Your Best LinkedIn Profile.  Or reach out and let’s talk about how to make you less ‘yelling from the rooftops’ and more James Bond-ish.

 

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

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

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

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

 

5 Power Words For Today’s World

manners maketh mann

Communication in the current state of the world has evolved – or degraded – to short, concise communication.  Think texting, tweeting and any other short form of communicating.  It is a ‘tell me quick and tell me now’ kind of philosophy.

Even in resumes, you want to get your message across quickly, clearly and succinctly; less words more white space.  You have seconds and inches to get attention and make an impact.

I live in this world. I get the purpose and power of short communication.

With that being said, there are five words that are being more frequently dropped from communication outside the resume: face to face, emails, Skyping, phone calls, networking, introductions, casual conversations – the list goes on.  They need to come back. Pronto.

These five words are power.  These words are ones that most people know yet are neglecting to use, normally on the premise of time.

Without further ado, here are the five words:

Please  ~  Thank You  ~  I Apologize

I am a huge fan of manners.  Like Harry the Kingsman says: “Manners Maketh Man”.  I remember reading Miss Manners in the newspaper as a kid.  When I tell my dogs to do something, instead of ‘good boy’ sometimes I say ‘thank you’. Yes, I was a bit of an odd child and possibly an even odder adult.

My parents and grandmother instilled the importance of manners in me while growing up.  I instilled it in my son. Sometimes I think my lessons took in a little too deep when, as a child, he would hold the door open for someone and if they did not say ‘thank you’ he would blurt out rather loudly, ‘You’re welcome’ after they were well clear of the door.

Poor boyfriend.  He is a Chief in the Navy and it is sometimes difficult for him to adjust when he gets home.  What is a request on base sounds like a command at home without the power words.  Although, he does realize he has not made the transition to ‘home mind’ when, after a command, I simply look at him and say, “Please?”

In everyday communication, without manners, without these power words, what we say or write can come across as commands.

This week I have received a few commands, which prompted me down the rabbit hole of manners and ultimately here writing this.

  • “Send me this”
  • “Call me this afternoon”
  • “Go to our website”
  • “I got it.”
  • “I’ll reschedule”
  • Do this. Do That.
  • You are not important.
  • My time is more valuable

These last three can be construed as the real message without power words. How much more respectful, professional and inviting would it be to simply put a ‘please’, ‘thank you’ or ‘I apologize’ in there?  A lot!

By the way, I am using “I apologize” instead of “I am sorry” for a specific reason.  I am sorry is too often overused and ignored by most people.  It can be seen as a canned response or knee jerk reaction.  When my son was growing up, and to this day, when he says, “I’m sorry” I follow up with “For what?”  I make him explain why his is sorry to make sure it is not a canned response. I would not suggest doing this with your network.

I know we have such limited time in the day.  There are times that I am being absent minded or rushed and I forget to say please or thank you.  I hate when I do this.  When I realize it, I go back.  Yes, I do. I re-respond apologizing for sounding blunt or rude and then thank them or ask nicely properly.

There are also times that you need to respond quickly to someone you know well.  In the rare occurrence that the boyfriend sends me a link or message during the day, I do respond with “Got it” because I know he is very busy and not engaged in ‘home thinking’.  This, for him, is good manners – recognizing that I received his communication, the thank you will be said later in home-mode. So yes, you can get a pass now and then.

Other than that, no.  There is no excuse for not using manners and showing appreciation or recognition to those that you are interacting with at some level.

I realize there might be some that doubt how powerful these words really are, so let’s try this: test it.  For a few days or a week, be very mindful in your communication and start adding ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ to your communication.  After the designated timeframe, evaluate the communication that ensued.  I would bet dollars to donuts that the responses were more open, communicative and your messages were received in a more positive manner.

Please try it, if for no other reason than to start a return of manners. Thank you.

 

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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

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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.