No, I’m not kidding, there is more than one type of cover letter

I literally said this to someone at the gym the other morning.

Perhaps not the way I would normally respond, but give me a break, it was early. Chief somehow gets us to the gym in the ungodly hour of 5 am so I wake up sometime around 6ish on a treadmill.

The guys at the gym know what I do. Not that they asked me. They asked Chief.  It’s the southern manners, they often talk to the man instead of the woman.

It’s very interesting, especially for someone not from the south. The closest I get to being a Southern Belle is Carol Burnett’s Scarlette.

On this day, Chief was out of town so it was just me. Somehow, a couple of the guys were talking about early retirement, changing jobs, job searching – you know, stuff up my alley. Then I hear one tell the other that it’s good for him to keep his resume updated all the time (true) but not to worry about a Cover Letter, they’re dead.

Wait. What?

Now boys, I appreciate the southern charm, I really do. However, that advise is as useful as a steering wheel on a mule. And you’re fixin’ to get me riled up.

Too late, riling happened. I had to interject. Because, you know, this is what I do….

Now if you think a couple of good ol’ boys are going to believe a girl who’s just about knee-high to a duck just because she said so well then you’ve only got one oar in the water.

So after the above mentioned “No, I’m not kidding” I did convince them (and educate a little) with some Q&A:

Q: What if you saw a position posted and they asked for a cover letter? Oh, well yeah…
A: That’s right, you would have to write a Traditional Cover Letter, which targets a specific job in a company.

Q: What if you were referred to send your resume to someone in the company? Uh, the same thing?
A: Just about, just a tiny technicality in calling it a Referral Cover Letter which mentions the person who referred you.

Q: Now, what if you wanted to be proactive in your job search and reach out to a company, companies in an industry or an entire region to discover a position that isn’t even posted yet, create enough interest that one is created for you or make such an impression that they refer you to a hidden opportunity – meaning hardly any competition? You can do that?
A: You betcha! It’s called a Value Proposition Letter, which is a crisp, focused letter demonstrating your value. There are versions to this, with minor differences:
– A letter of interest – written without a specific job in mind to a specific company.
– A broadcast letter – written without a specific job to several employers in a targeted sector.
– A prospecting letter – without a specific job to a smaller, more targeted audience.

Q: Okay, lastly, what if you wanted to do something new but didn’t know anything about it so you wanted to reach out to someone to get their advice on how to get into their industry, find out more about what the position is like or even what else you can do once you get into it? I don’t know
A: Another letter – or email – but this time it’s a Networking Letter. You’re basically asking for an Informational Interview to get their advice or gather information about a position, industry or your job search.

My good deed and workout were done for the day.

Oh, and don’t think these things are just thrown together haphazardly. Oh no, each letter is thoroughly researched, targeted and meticulously crafted for the most impact. The most impactful and successful Value Proposition Letters are no more than 150 words – total!

Some hiring managers and recruiters may take the side of the gym boys saying the Cover Letter is dead. It may be in their eyes. But not for everyone.

I know many decision makers across multiple industries that do read the Cover Letters. Some read it before the resume and use it as a deciding factor if they want to read the resume. Some read after the resume as a test to make sure the person sounds the same in both.

Across our industry, it is generally accepted that on the low end, at least 60% of jobs are hidden – meaning they aren’t advertised. Think about it for a minute, how often do you hear or know of when a position needs to be filled, internally you hear those four little words, “do you know anyone…”?

This is why networking and hidden job market strategy using Value Proposition Letters are so amazing. They get results.

Every piece of communication is an opportunity for you to expand your network, cement your brand and open doors. Why would you turn that down? The person on the other side of the desk can choose not to read that letter, but wouldn’t you rather have it and not need it than need it and not have it?

Of course, I guess if someone doesn’t want to make the most of every possible opportunity, they have their reasons, bless their little heart.

 

Has one of these letters been successful for you? Bonus question – I had a lot of fun with the southern sayings in this – I think “bless their heart” is still my favorite. What’s your favorite or one that you don’ hear anymore? 

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As a triple certified as a Professional Resume Writer, Career Coach and Social Media Brand Analyst I help amazing professionals break out of a suffocating corporate existence and get happy in their career.

I’m the career alchemist – I turn job lead into career gold!

Click here – CareerPolish.com – to find out more about we can work together to get you career happy.

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Yes, Virginia, the holidays are a good time to expand your career opportunities

 

Whoever said it is a bad idea to job search during the holidays is a Grinch. Holidays, although having their own challenges, are a fantastic time to put a little kick in building your network and boost your career search.

The downsides are that during this time it might be difficult to get all decision makers together at one time. This only means that things could be delayed. No worries. You can keep in contact, send a little holiday cheer and reach right back out after everyone has returned to the office.

Budget considerations seem to be the excuse the Grinches use to not job search. Bah Humbug! If it is a budget issue that they can’t hire by the end of the year, it only means a bit of a delay into the new year. As my son would say, “it’s not that heavy.” It gives you time to build relationships and prepare for the upcoming submission or interview.

The other side of the coin of budget considerations is there are some jobs that are “use it or lose it”. Meaning if they do not fill them by the end of the year, that position will be written off. In that situation, recruiters work doubly hard to fill those positions in the last few weeks before the new year. They have to, too many people are not active because they listened to a Grinch.

Reach out, connect and keep your ears open for these opportunities.

The holidays also provide ample reasons to get out there and network! Maybe you aren’t invited to your dream company’s holiday party, but that doesn’t mean you can’t hobnob with your future coworkers. Charitable organizations give plenty of opportunities for a twofer: to expand your network and support a worthy cause.

You may not have to work very hard to find these opportunities, sometimes they come to you. Case in point: I was called for a donation/tickets to a fun, youth-focused benefit concert – thank you Memphis Firefighters!

Many friends and family have holiday get-togethers. This is a wonderful opportunity to drop little nuggets. Often attendees will reminisce over the past year or look forward. This is a great time to casually mention your career goals or job search. You can have fun with this: “All I want for Christmas is an introduction to Chris Kringle at Holiday Central Company.” Or if you aren’t in the mood for a little corny, maybe say that you have had a great year and next year you are excited to hit one of your goals – to move up into that Reindeer Logistics position.

Be of good cheer and get out there! When attending events be your best elf. Go with the intention of not only meeting specific or new people but with the purpose of providing value to them. It is a golden rule of networking, but worth repeating.

Don’t forget that any interaction is a networking opportunity. Out shopping for someone on your list or for yourself? Oh come on, I can’t be the only one that sees a major deal score on something I already wanted so I just happen to pick it up while I’m out…. While out in the holiday eating and shopping frenzy, talk to your fellow elves. You never know where these conversations can lead. I’m always happily distracted by conversations with strangers during crazy holiday mayhem.

The holidays lend themselves for more interaction. Except on Black Fridays, most people seem to be filled with more cheer. When you see all the opportunities around you, the holidays can be the time when you crush your networking goals.

 

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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 ★

Don’t Let Facebook Ruin A Job Offer

Three people.
All exceptional candidates across talent, energy, ability to provide value. All considered for a position with a high-energy, creative firm. Three people who the executive team was excited about.
Not one got the job.
Three people did not receive a job offer because of their Facebook page.
I’m no Nero Wolfe or Colombo (and if you know who those two are without having to Google it, you’re my kind of person). Yet I – and many others – can do a simple search on Facebook.
One search can ruin all credibility you created.
Poof! Gone.
I am not targeting Millennials. Oh no. This faux pas is for us older generation, too. I’ve got one word for you: politics.
It is not that you post your opinion in this arena. Yay or nay about the current climate makes no difference, you do you.
It’s how you post.
If you are mean, nasty, snotty, inappropriate or just an overall horse’s arse then you are going to be a horse’s arse without a job offer. I would not want to hire anyone to be a part of my team who treats people in this way if they disagree with them.
It’s time to clean up all your social media. It matters. Last year it was reported that 70% of employers used social media to screen candidates (CareerBuilder).
Start with the obvious: delete any questionable, vulgar, or inappropriate photos or posts. Next is anything that would throw you in a different light than what you are presenting during your job search.
Not sure what those are? Think of it this way: before I went to college my dad gave me a piece of advice. When deciding what to do, “Just imagine I am standing right next to you.” Would you say that or behave that way if your parent was standing next to you?
If that doesn’t work for you, how about this: would you talk to your grandmother like that? Or how about, you get the job and that picture is going to be used for all your professional material. Business cards, website bio, team photo. Is that really the one you want the professional world to see?
Ideally, you want to clean social media house before you begin the job search. If you are already in the process please, please, please clean up your social media house tonight!
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I do what I love: help professionals break out of a suffocating job existence and into a career that renews their brilliance.
I am triple certified as a Professional Resume Writer, Social Brand Analyst and Career Coach. My clients learn to identify, strengthen and communicate their brand and most importantly – their value – across 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 ★

Be Like Them To Be Liked By Them

 

matching and mirroring for networking

Ah, networking. How we need thee and sometimes loath thee.

Imagine walking into a room and not knowing a single person. Do you feel your stomach tighten? Your nerves tingle? Does your breathing quicken and become shallower? Is that little voice in your head questioning how you are going to connect to someone, anyone?

Now imagine walking into a room full of strangers. But this time, you are confident that in a few minutes, you will be building rapport with anyone in that room.

Which scenario would you like better? I bet the second one. There is only a slight difference between the two scenarios. The key is deliberately applying something we do naturally.

Before we get to the key – let me frame our conversation with this basic fact: like attracts like. We are drawn to people like us or share similar traits, interests, habits or patterns.

I had a whole city full of demonstrations of this fact last weekend. Chief and I went to a concert. As we were walking around town before the show, we saw a lot of people wearing shirts with the band’s name on it. Lots of people. From 10-year-olds to 70-year-olds. Every shape, size, color imaginable of person – all wearing similar shirts. And each time they passed one another they interacted. With positive hand gestures and shouted out the band name or something related to the band.

There was a lot of bonding among strangers in that little town. All because they had something in common.

Like attracts like.

How does this benefit you in building rapport quickly when networking? And what is this thing we naturally do anyway?

Matching and Mirroring. These are two terms used in NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming). Basically, it is becoming in sync with the other person.

There is a subtle difference between the two and, just for fun, let’s add another element: Cross Over Mirroring. In terms of body language, the three can be very simply broken down as:

Mirroring is literally being a mirror to the other person. If they raise their right hand, you raise your left as though they are looking into a mirror.

Matching is copying their move. If they tilt their head to the left slightly, you tilt your head slightly to your left.

Cross Over Mirroring is when you match their movement with a different type of movement. If they are tapping their foot, you tap your finger.

We instinctually perform matching and mirroring. The next time you are talking to a friend or loved one, pay attention to how you are interacting. Are you leaning in after they lean in? Do you use hand gestures when you talk and they respond using similar hand gestures?

Yet when you are aware of the implication of matching and mirroring and apply it deliberately, you will quickly create a trust bridge. You will be emitting, and their brain will be receiving, a message that says, “Hey, there is no danger here, we are cool. We can build a connection because we are alike.”

It first starts with the handshake. Match their handshake. If they are a strong shaker, shake their hand firmly right back. If they are a soggy-sock shaker, use very little pressure. No matter how hard it is – fight the urge to squeeze a gentle shaker’s hand. It sets up a roadblock to building rapport.

I mentioned above breathing and speaking. If the person you are speaking with is a fast talker, speed up a bit to be more in sync with them. If they are a more deliberate talker, slow it down.

Matching their breathing can be trickier. You can notice their shoulders to get the sense of their timing, but that may be more than you are willing to tackle at first.

Start with the body language, speed and pitch of their voice. Build symmetry naturally.

Naturally – that is the caveat. We want to match and mirror – not mimic or monkey. What does this mean? Have you heard the phrase ‘monkey see, monkey do”? It means when someone makes a move you immediately make that move. And continue to do so. That is way too deliberate. It is annoying and you actually break the rapport.

Be aware and be subtle. Wait a couple beats to match or mirror. Make your movements gentle and natural so they are unaware of what you are doing.

The next time you walk into that room of unknowns, take a moment to scan and observe. Notice how someone stands, leans and gestures. Then you can approach them and confidently, discretely and quickly build rapport so there won’t be a stranger left in that room.

Did you notice the matching being done in the picture above? The two gentlemen each have a hand in their pocket. All three are holding their glasses in their right hand at the same plane. One gentleman is holding his glass higher near the rim, while the other two are holding theirs closer to the stem of the glass. It’s fun when you start looking a bit more closely, isn’t it?!

 

 

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I do what I love: help professionals break out of a suffocating job existence and into a career that renews their brilliance.

I am triple certified as a Professional Resume Writer, Social Brand Analyst and Career Coach. My clients learn to identify, strengthen and effectively communicate their brand and most importantly – their value – by learning and leveraging personal branding as applied to LinkedIn, resumes, networking, communication, relationship management, presence and influence.

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

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

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 ★

 

 

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