Is Your Resume Speaking Their Language?


No matter where I roam, I am a Hoosier. I was raised on Bobby Knight’s coaching and weekend show, Reggie Miller ruling the court, watching the Indians on 16th Street and lighting of the world’s largest Christmas tree to name a few.

First and foremost I am just going to say, people are people. I meet and enjoy conversations with amazing, kind, good people all over the country. There is no judgement that one location is better than the other.

We now have an office in Tennessee. I have learned to manage the travel and scheduling, but had the most fun learning and observing the subtle differences between the two locations.

Although, we do have one thing in common: we all love Peyton and claim him as our own.

The biggest difference between the Midwest and the Mid-South to me has been the nuances of language. Although I still cannot figure out why it is standard to write Midwest as one word yet Mid-South is typically a hyphenated word.

I quickly discovered a uniqueness in the Mid-South, at least in my area, name calling. Name calling in the Mid-South is meaningless. A different kind of name calling.

I have been called sweetie, sweets, baby, baby doll, babe, honey and hon. Oh yeah, and sweet thing.

My boyfriend and I were at a local spot getting a pop when I heard, “Hey, sweet thing!”

In both the Midwest and the Mid-South the intent was to get my attention.

Now, where I am from, there is a certain connotation that comes with someone yelling that out. If I were back in the Midwest, I would have had a much different reaction. It would have been an insult to my boyfriend, and me, in a really bad icky-ish pick up throwaway line.

Not in the Mid-South, I just turned around. Not that I naturally assumed that I was the ‘sweet thing’ in question, but there was no one else around and I took a chance they were not yelling it out to my boyfriend.

Mr. Sweet Thing then asked me where I got my boots because his wife would look really good in them. I have to give him credit, they were awesome boots. One of my favorites, the pair I call my pirate boots: knee high black leather, fold over top, dangling charms, pointy toe with three inch heels.

When I told him a store in Indiana he said that stunk because he really wanted to get them for her and thanked me.

I learned that hearing any additional name within a sentence is not a personal thing, it is simply a word: thank you sweetie, good morning baby doll, hon can I help you, here babe let me get that for you, have a great day honey. Regardless of race, religion, size, shape – those little words are stuck in sentences.

I am used to hearing words, just a word without major meaning, stuck in somewhere in a sentence, in the Midwest you can here bro, brother, brah, buddy, dude, bud. It is not uncommon for men to use these types of words when speaking to each other, the Mid-South just happens to give the ladies their own list. Thanks y’all!

What does this have to do with resumes? Certainly not a suggestion of adding these words in there! No, no, no, it is all about the language nuance.

When reading open position postings, are you picking up on the nuances?

When you read about the company, are you getting the feeling of the atmosphere or environment? Does the company or position sound like it is a nose to the grindstone, all out, hard core performance only matters or a relaxed, collaborative place that encourages new ideas and growth?

Listen for the intent, do not just read the words.

When you read the job description, listen to your inner voice in putting together a picture of the opportunity, company and environment. When you read a novel, you form a picture of characters in your head based on the words the author uses; this is the same concept.

Once you get a feel for it, dig in for their important words; there are two sets: key words and descriptors. Use both to speak their language.

Descriptors are the words they use to describe activities or items. Do they use words like drive, propel, encourage, maximize – words that inspire action, excitement? Jot down words or feelings when reading to be able to match their level of descriptors.

Key words are word important to the position and duties. Jot them down as you come across them. A resource to quickly and easily check the most used words in any document is Simply copy the text, paste it in the box and click “visualize”. Tada! A word cloud of the most used words.

Here is the word cloud for this article:


Prior to the picture, there are 713 words. ‘Midwest’ was used 5 times, ‘pick’ twice and ‘words’ 13 times – just to give you a reference for the visual rating. Pick was identified with various endings.

Most people read the posting and primarily focus on the duties, then writing their resume filled with prior job duties to try to match up with the job. This is a mistake, they are missing critical areas and opportunities.

For the next opportunity you see that sounds like a great match, read it over several times to help your resume speak to them:

  1. Read the job duties for alignment with your value and what you want to do.
  2. Read the requirements to identify your qualifications.
  3. Read it all the way through to get a ‘feel’ for the environment listening to the nuances of how they describe factors throughout the entire posting.
  4. Pick out keywords and their important words.

Once you have this information, go back to your resume and communication and adjust:

  1. Emphasize the value you bring to the expected duties.
  2. Highlight your matching qualifications.
  3. Use their descriptors or similar to speak their language.
  4. Utilize keywords throughout your resume.

Taking a little extra time and ‘listening’ to what is written will help you demonstrate that you are the best candidate to the prospective employer in a way that they can hear you. And sweetie, that can be the difference that gets you the interview.



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 – – 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. 


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

cleats - preparing resume for new job when employed

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

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

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

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

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

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

You are at 2-a-days.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Success always comes when preparation meets opportunity”


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 – – to find out more about how we can help you.

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

You Lost Your Job – Congratulations!

You Lost Your Job – Congratulations!

Be forewarned – this article contains feel good, ooey gooey type messages and perspectives. If you prefer to wallow in anger, frustration, misery or blame – do us both a favor and stop reading now!

In one week I spoke to two different people in two different situations.  The first was a woman who proudly announced that after 17 years at her job she was quitting.  I immediately told her “Congratulations!”

The other, the next day, was a young man who told me after six years, his position is being downsized.  I responded with, “Congratulations!”

These were not sarcastic comments; they were heart-felt, sincere congratulations.

I have been doing career coaching for some time now and the one thing I have learned is this: every opportunity is a – wait for it – blessing in disguise.  The first ooey gooey!

I know you are probably not bought in yet, so let me offer the most powerful example or “insight” that I can:

We stink at planning our own life.

There may be factors that you are really good at: what college to attend, getting the right internship, getting the right car, having the right house in the right location – yes, sometimes we can plan things out wonderfully and they even go according to plan.

But life does not work exactly according to plan and we stink at planning our lives. If we were so good at it, we would not lose jobs, lovers, friends or opportunities.  One of my favorite sayings is “Man plans, God laughs.”

Life laughs. and laughs….and laughs…and laughs.

If we got everything we asked for – everything we plan, we would be miserable.

Remember that person you were madly in love with in your 20’s and you wanted to spend the rest of your life with them?  You really dodged a bullet there looking back 20 years later and realizing they were a self-absorbed pig with no heart.  Or that company that you were dying to work for that turned out to be a soul-sucking institution of self-loathing?

That pretty much negated the ooey-gooey, but the fact is what we want in the immediate is not always what is best for us in the long term.

Sometimes what we think we want is not really what we want, it is just what we have always thought.

Here is a good example and to add a little more ooey-gooey back in. If you were to ask my beau a year and a half ago about his ideal girlfriend he would have told you at least 5’8”, brunette, health nut, someone really into running with a pretty conservative existence, a bit shy or quiet – not someone to really rock the boat or be out there.

I am 5’, blond, eat what I want, when I want it, only run if someone is chasing me and am anything but shy, quiet or contained.  There is absolutely nothing about me that met with his ideal; what he is to military guy I am to modern hippie, and yet we are blissfully happy – sometimes sickening so.  We have formed a partnership based on respect and communication.

What we think we want is based on what we know.  What we know is based on our past; it is solid.  What we are is in the present and it is semi-solid.  What awaits us is in the future and it is fluid.  How can we use our past to determine what is best for our future when it changes based on the present?

Just call me Buddha.

But seriously, what were your life goals at 22?  Have they changed?  Have you changed? I wanted to be a lawyer with five kids.  Well, that certainly changed.

I am a firm believer in this thing called life is not a test, a series of unfortunate events that lead to glimpses of happiness.  It is an experience.  It is a game that offers wins every day if we open our eyes.  It is fun and interactive, like all good games should be. When we get stale in our routine, we lessen our impact and our personal joy.

That is when it is life’s turn to play.  I would say it throws you a curve ball, but if you have good reflexes you are either going to learn to hit a curve or get out of the way.  No, life plays dodge ball.  You get one of those red rubber balls right upside the head!

Booom!  Wake up

You’re out of that game, time to start another.  But this time, you have to approach it differently so you don’t get beaned in the noggin.

Then it is your turn to play, you get to throw the balls back.  You get to identify your targets and pick them off!

This is your opportunity!

I ask every single client, what do you want to do next – don’t tell me a job or title, what do you want to be doing.  Many times they cannot answer that.

I get a lot of, “well, I’ve always done this…”  Nope.  What. Do. You. Want. To. Do.

We got stuck in adult.  Adults are supposed to have all the answers, all the time, in every situation without hesitation.  It is exhausting to adult.

Oh my, we were so entrenched that we have forgotten how to think about ourselves and what we want.  It is like someone flipping on a bright light after coming out of a cave.

There is a lot of blinking, stammering and shielding ourselves from the light.  It is finally revealed in an almost apologetic voice, “I don’t know.”

Good for you!

Seriously – good for you!  That means you are open to possibilities.  I want my clients to create a “no” list.  Here are the things I do not want in my next position.  Whatever it is that you really do not like doing.  I had one client that had been a manager for many years realize that he really did not like managing people.  Good to know.  When we first talked, all he talked about was he should go into managing teams because that is all he had ever done.

Now, get your “no” list and start exploring.  When you find something that gives your belly a little twinge, take out that no list and see if there is anything in there that matches up.  If not, then go for it!

That little twinge, is excitement.  It is joy.  It is time you find it again and that is the reason for the red ball upside your head.

It is yours to find and own.  The next job may not be all that and the bag of chips, but you know what, you went for it.  You tried; you expanded your playing field.

Losing your job is giving you the opportunity to expand, explore, create and for goodness sakes, live!  Look at that person in the mirror and get to know them again, what they like, what they don’t, what they have to offer and what brings them joy.

Stop forcing yourself into the misguided perception that you should have all the answers right now.  Why do we have it stuck in our heads that it is an absolute must that we should have all the answers, every minute of every day for every aspect from what’s for dinner to what is our next career move.  That’s right – we are doing adult.

Doing adult 24-7 is icky.

You may have to adult and take something that keeps that roof over your head and the bellies full, but do not give up on the twinge!

Here is the other thing about life – in the core of your life – it really is all about you.  If you are not happy, how can you provide happiness to someone else?  Yes, you have others depending on you and you need to make wise choices for what is best for your partner, children, family, employees – but what about you?

If you are a miserable person, how do you give them joy, inspiration, hope and confidence?

You have to take care of yourself before you can take care of anyone else. Part of taking care of yourself is asking yourself, “What do I want to do – if I could do or be anything, what would that look like or feel like?”

It may take a step or two to get there and in the process it may change; but do not think just because you have always done something that is what is meant to be, period, end of story.  Your story is not over or predetermined.

Life isn’t a test – you are not required to show up with all the answers.  It is a game that you learn to play and it is made up along the way.

I remember as a kid my friends would get together on the playground and there was seemingly nothing to play with – we made up games.  We would create combinations of baseball, red rover, freeze tag and whatever else we could imagine.  Just when we started to get the hang of that made up game, one of us would introduce a new rule.

Welcome to life friends, the playground got a lot bigger and the made up rules became a lot more fun – and rewarding, if you stop trying to adult every second of every day and listen to the kid inside of you wanting to find joy – and bean life back with one of those red rubber balls.


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

Click here – – to find out more about Career Polish and how we can help you.

There are Benefits to Marvelous Disasters

pretty hole in the floorI am a positive person, much to the annoyance of some and delight to others; I am someone that tries to see the bright side or opportunity no matter the situation.

I also think life has a wicked sense of humor and normally appreciate it as my humor is a bit warped. Last week it had a marathon going and I reaped the full benefit of this brand of humor.

The week before last or thereabouts I had several thoughts going on in my head, this is not unusual. Things that crossed my mind were I needed to take a day to recharge, I hadn’t slept well and was feeling a bit sluggish. I had been looking at different flooring options and I am contemplating changing the flooring on the main floor of my house. I also wanted to change the bench seat in my front room. When I built it, I put doors that opened from the front and I want to change it for a top open with a cushion attached that was dog-proof.

Careful what you wish for.

Monday I found myself in the full throw of a horrendous sinus infection that not only took away my voice and the ability to breathe through my nose, it gave me a five second delay for every thought and knocked me out. I got my rest.

Wednesday I woke to find a frozen river in my backyard. Literally. All along the back of my yard and culminating in a nice ice skating pond in the back was a frozen river. It had not been there the day before.

I contacted the water company to discover two things: I had a pipe burst somewhere in my foundation and it costs over $600 to create a frozen river in my back yard. Who knew?

For three days last week I had a crew digging four holes in my home through the foundation and had no water. For three days I had the task of keeping three dogs from helping the crew and staying out of the holes.

One hole is where the bench seat used to be. It had to be disassembled and removed to accommodate the dig. One hole is in my living room where the flooring I have been contemplating changing is now removed.

I asked for the opportunity for a few things and life delivered. Not exactly the way I would have preferred, but it delivered.

I discovered that a friend I went to school with is an amazing plumber and handyman who is the epitome of the qualities you want in someone destroying parts of your home: honesty, integrity, professionalism, humor and tenacity. He is my guy, no matter what happens in my home from now on, Steve gets the call.

I discovered my son can sleep through jackhammers. Literally slept through it all.

I rediscovered the lovely qualities of compassion and humor in people. From my clients that kept my humor up to my friends that allowed me to shower at their home and fill up water jugs to others that sent me sweet messages to keep my head up.

I realized that if I had to have one major utility go out in my home, it should be the water. I still had heat, electricity, able to cook, sleep well and care for the pups.

I discovered that at some point we can all get what we want, the rub it that it may not exactly be delivered in the way in which you would prefer.

But that is the adventure. It might not seem like an adventure; it might actually on first blush seem like a catastrophe, but it is an opportunity.

Your wish list might include a certain company, specific job or land a particular client. What happens if you get into the company and you hate it – it is completely opposite of what you dreamed of?

As far as the specific job, what if you were offered a completely different path? Do you really know that it won’t still lead you to that position? Do you thumb your nose at this other opportunity because it is not exactly what you want? Perhaps there is something for you to learn in this detour that will make the desired position even more magnificent by the time you get there.

What happens when that client signs with you and they turn out to be completely opposite of pre-engagement? They could have been completely engaged in the process and positive and once they sign the dotted line they become aloof, uncooperative and a nightmare to work with?

One of the cruelest things we can do to ourselves is to focus on the end game with a single, tunnel-vision precision view of the goal. We neglect to look at the most important aspect – the journey.

It is the twists and turns, the seemingly negative or potentially disastrous events that lead to the goal that are important game changers. It is also how you handle the pot holes and detours on your path that help determine where it leads.

Make goals, have dreams and shoot for the stars and then realize that on the way to achieving these wonderful things that you could quite possibly have the craziest, rockiest, muddiest or most frozen road there.

If you can embrace those mudslides, rocks, ice and detours your victory will taste sweeter; you will be stronger and more educated to grab those goals with both hands and celebrate. You will find small victories and celebrations along the way.

Sometimes they are reminders to appreciate what you have; sometimes they are reminders to lighten up. Sometimes they allow you to gain the knowledge to be able to offer a helping hand or kind word to someone else down the road and confidently say, “I’ve been there, it will get better.”

Do Not Marry or Do Business with Every One That Proposes to You

Man holding roseI had to stop myself from doing the long, dramatic “No” scream when talking to a business owner the other day.

We were discussing branding and the conversation turned to clients.  This is when they told me that they would work with anyone.

Anyone?  As in anyone and everyone?


Their reason was simple: they need the money.  They did not want to turn down prospective clients.  They did not want to lose a sale.  They need to reach a quota.

Been there, done that; lesson learned.

I had lean times where I took on clients that I knew, absolutely knew, were going to be a nightmare and lo and behold – they were.  That fee that helped keep the utilities on ended up costing me a lot more than a reconnection charge.

I learned I need my integrity and to be true to myself more than a I need a fee with strings and daggers attached.

Defining your target market is critical to success.  It allows you to stop chasing the puppies and cleaning up puddles of pee when you want to run with the big dogs.

The first step in defining your target market is to define yourself, your value and your limits.

This starts with a pretty blunt question: what are you willing to do, sacrifice and put up with?

I often compare job searching and business building to dating, and here is another great opportunity for me to do so.

You are selective about your personal relationships, why not your business relationships?  Let’s take a dating prospective to defining your target clients:

Really – anyone and everyone?

If you were single, would you go out with everyone and anyone who asked you?  I don’t think so.  Would you have a long term relationship or marry anyone who asked you?  I don’t think so.  I do mean anyone, even some random stranger at a bar.  It happens.

I was proposed to by a guy in a bar at my cousin’s reception in California.  He said he had been married five times and asked if I wanted to be number six.  I said no, hoping the conversation would be over.  But then he asked why not.  I told him he didn’t seem to be very good at it having been married so many times.  That ended the conversation.

What is your Type?

What type of clients do you really click with?  Are they in certain industries, positions, stages of their career/business or certain personality traits?  What are the characteristics of a person that are an absolute, a willing to deal with and a oh hell no?

In dating an absolute may be someone who is of the same faith, a willing to deal with is someone who is a die-hard fan of a sport you cannot stand and a hell no could be someone who is a self-centered narcissist.

What is important to you and do these things align with your clients?  It makes for a more harmonious relationship.

Know your value.

Everyone has value to give.  What is yours?  Take a moment to think about your strengths, abilities, assets and positives.  Live in that moment for a minute and take it in.  Be appreciative of yourself and proud of yourself.  Know this is your value and feel good about it.

Being in this feel good place, do you really want to bring someone in your life that is going to take you out of it?  No.  If they cannot see or appreciate your value it will lesson your appreciation of it.  You want clients that understand and appreciate this value.  I am not saying you should expect every client to throw you praises every day about what you do; you just do not want the clients who take it for granted.

I am a nature freak.  I enjoy cutting the grass, trimming the yard, having beautiful landscaping and just generally being outside even taking the dogs on walks. Just because I love to do these things does not mean I want someone to take it for granted and expect me to do it for them.  “You like taking your dogs on a walk, couldn’t you just take mine (while I sit inside and do nothing) since you like being outside so much?”  No.

The take for granted prospective clients are the ones that say things like, “Well, you do this for a living, couldn’t you just do it for free?”  or “Since you are doing this part anyway, couldn’t you just do the rest for free.”  Do you see a theme there?

Set parameters. 

Know what you will and will not accept or tolerate and be willing to walk away.  It is ok to break up with someone who is not respectful of you, just as it is ok to fire a client for the same.

Without parameters, “The client is always right” can go from a cheer for exceptional customer service to a sneer of contempt when you have to redo the proposal or work – again – because they changed their mind, which they expect you to read, and wanted the work done yesterday.

Be clear, professional and firm in defining and stating your parameters.  I would not suggest starting any relationship, personal or business, with a list of demands or “if you do not meet these it is over” type language.  However, when a client has crossed the line or is getting a bit too close, speak up.

Vet the field

Your time is important and valuable, both on a person and professional level.  Take time to vet a prospective date or client before you decide to spend time or get into a relationship with them.  Talk to your prospects and more importantly – listen.

Sometimes the key to knowing this is not the right client for you is in what is said, how it is said or what is not said.

Twenty years of failed relationships without any accountability and each one was someone else’s fault would be a major red flag.

Why do they need your services, what brought them to this place, what are their short term and long term goals?  Are they coming to you for a partnership, a solution or as another person to blame for them not taking ownership of their own business/path?

Give and give with passion.

I heard a quote along the lines that relationships are not 50/50, they are 100/100; you go in giving all you have, as does the other person.

In a business relationship, this equation is not the same; however to give your clients the best of you, your service and your value you must go in 100%, and have the passion and enthusiasm to do so.

When you find your ideal clients, work is no longer work, it is fulfilling a passion, providing a value, a challenge, fun and rewarding.

Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Brand Strategist & Career Coach

Certified Professional Resume Writer

The 3 Scripts You Need BEFORE You Make Any Call

Feel free to use this image just link to www.rentvine.comYou received a message with the request that you call the person back.  It could be a job opportunity or prospective client.  Either way, it is a very important call.

A new job or a new lucrative revenue stream could depend upon this call.


No pressure, of course.


Before you pick up that phone in haste and excitement, make sure you are prepared.


Do you have three versions of your message ready?


Yes, I said three.  Here is why:


  1. If the person you wish to speaks with answers the phone.  This is best case scenario and the one most people are prepared for.
  2. If you reach their voicemail.  This is where people might stumble.  They either prepare for voicemail or the actual person – but not both.
  3. If you reach a gatekeeper.  This is the one that people tend to forget.


You should be prepared for each scenario so that way, no matter which option you get, you come across confident, collected and professional.


I honestly cannot tell you the number of times I have answered the phone to be met with “Oh, I didn’t expect you to answer.”  I dropped the niceties a long time ago and now gently, and with a smile ask, “Then why did you call me?”


The normal answer: “I expected to get your voicemail.”


This is not the best way to start a conversation with someone you are hoping will hire you.


Over the years I have received my fair share of voicemails that were pretty close to train wrecks.  It took some time to get to the point, there was a lot of reiteration of information, hurrying through the phone number (or forgetting it) and a weak conclusion.


This is the least pressure call of all – you do not even have to talk to an actual person.


Here are some pointers for all three calls:


  1.  Use your full name, not just your first name.  Odds are they know more than one person with your first name.  You may not be top of mind when you call, even if they do not.
  2. If you are calling a prospect, be sure to use your first and last name along with your company name.
  3. Thank them for calling or contacting you, which leads into:
  4. Let them know you are returning their call or their message per their request.  They may have forgotten they called you.
  5. If you are leaving a voicemail, let them know the date and time that you are leaving the message – electronic date stamping is not infallible.
  6. If talking to the person of interest and they hesitate or seem to not remember why they called you, offer a gentle nudge.  Gentle, not straight out, “You were calling to offer me the position.”
  7. If you get a gatekeeper, pay attention to their name if given when answering the phone.  Then say hello using their name, give your first and last name and tell them you were returning a call to Mr./Ms. Person of Interest.
  8. You do not need to give the entire story to the gatekeeper.  Just let them know you are returning the call and if the person of interest is not available ask if you may leave a message.  Then thank them at the end.
  9. If giving your phone number to a gatekeeper or voicemail, speak slowly.  Picture in your mind writing each number down as you say it, this will allow the person on the other end enough time to get it the first time.
  10. At the end of your voicemail, thank them, repeat your phone number and let them know when you would be available if convenient for them.
  11. No matter whom you speak to – thank them.  Manners matter.
  12. Smile.  Whether you talk to a person or machine, smile.  It comes through in your voice.  You sound positive and confident.


With a little preparation you will be able to deliver the perfect call or message no matter what the situation and seal that deal!


Lisa K McDonald, CPRW

Brand Strategist & Career Coach

Certified Professional Resume Writer





It is Not Where You Start; It’s Not Even Where You Finish

My friend and I had a monumental personal accomplishment this weekend:  we completed the first annual Indiana Women’s Trail Run.  A quarter marathon (or 10k or almost 7 miles) hiking through Eagle Creek Park.


Most women there ran it; we walked it.  I am absolutely fine with this.  It was not about a time or place – it was about doing it.  And we did.


What makes this so monumental is that three months ago, she had a hip replaced and I could not walk up a flight of stairs without being winded.


And we did it!  We have the medal and Facebook pictures to prove it.


Looking at me most people would never have guessed what state I was in three months ago.  I am a very petite person; all of 5 foot tall and maybe a hundred pounds soaking wet.  I look like I am in great shape.  I eat fairly healthy and do a lot of labor activity around my house.


But my cardio – it was in the crapper.  I was embarrassed at my poor state of health.  I will never run marathons, I know this.  I do not have the desire to do so and if I ever got a crazy notion to do so my knees would immediately remind me that they protest by swelling up like cantaloupes.


I knew I would need to start working on my cardio so I joined my friend walking on the Monon.  We started on Saturdays and then started walking throughout the week.  Each week I felt stronger.  I knew I was improving and treating my body the way I should – getting it healthy.


I realized when we were walking Saturday morning on the trail that it was completely irrelevant where I started.  I could be in the worst shape or decent shape; it just didn’t matter.  Crossing that finish line wasn’t really the biggest achievement. 


It was the journey that I took.  Making a commitment, following through, giving myself positive motivation and praise for every mile that I walked and every mile I added on.  It was on the weekends and weeknights that the real change happened.


While we set a goal to finish the run, we did so much more.  We felt fantastic after and on the ride back started talking about our next event.  This run might have been the end point, but once we got there, it no longer was; it was just a stepping stone.


You might be struggling with your job or career right now.  You might be thinking you are too old, do not have the right qualifications, it may take too long to get certified or have not finalized a plan on how to get to where you dream of going.


My advice to you today: stop looking at where you are and focusing solely on the end point.  What you have done in the past, good or bad, is in the past.  Today is a brand new day; an opportunity to start fresh; the day to lace up your sneakers and just take a walk.


Start setting small goals, make them a bit of a stretch but achievable.  This gives you drive and the opportunity to give yourself praise for each step you take.


You do not have to know the whole road.  Here’s a little secret – the road is going to change anyway.  Have an end game in mind but be flexible as to how it will come about.  During the trail run we came across a huge mud pit with a small lake in the middle (ok, just a little exaggeration).  We were nearing the end and there was no way I was going to have my friend try to navigate that mess; and honestly I wasn’t really thrilled with the idea of trampling through that either. 


I found an alternative.  There was a little hidden path right next to the mess.  We averted 90% of the mud and muck while staying on course and track.  If you only focus on the “I have to do these things in this order” then you will miss the little hidden paths that keep the mud out of your toes.


If it is your dream or your goal than take full ownership and responsibility; this means do not let anyone else dictate your steps time table or accomplishments.  You may have to tune others out and perhaps not share this vision with others so they do not poo—poo it; do what you have to do.  It is not about them anyway, this is about you.


Throughout your journey there will be days you are frustrated, want to give up or just take a little break.  Don’t.  Keep going.  Remember, yesterday doesn’t matter.  One weekend we walked over 20 miles.  I was so proud of myself that weekend.  Monday, I told myself that was great, but it was in the past; what was I going to do this week?


Lastly, do enlist your support system.  Those friends that love you unconditionally, support any crazy notion you have and offer support, not judgment.  Those are the ones you will draw strength from and the ones that will help you celebrate.  You need your support system, no matter who they are.  My dogs are part of mine.  They get laps at home to help keep me focused, motivated and routine.  Oh, and they cheer me on.


Of course, they may be doing it for the puppy treats.


Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Brand Strategist & Career Coach

Certified Professional Resume Writer






Work With What You’ve Got

Going outside your comfort zone can be overwhelming.  Even if the step you are taking is a tiny one, it can still cause quite a bit of anxiety.


I was asked to give a four-minute talk at a networking event called Sparks.  It is a similar format as the TED Talks with two four-minute presenters and a ten-minute presenter.  The talks are focused on ideas worth sharing – not about promoting your business. 


This would not seem like a problem for me, as I am a talker.  I love facilitating workshops and speaking so I was thrilled to present.  It also let me be creative in what I wanted to talk about.  I’m a creative person so again, this shouldn’t have been an issue.


I chose to talk about gratitude and for the metaphors use one thing I love: dogs.


It is all sounding good and I was getting excited.


But here is the thing: I wanted it to be good and what I found was I was running over on my time.


If that were to happen I would immediately be clapped off the stage – so it is a strict four minutes.


Now the anxiety started creeping in, it was getting out of my comfort zone because I was not able to control all the factors. 


Do I trim the talk to make it fit but loose some of the punch?

Do I start over thinking of a new angle but loose the excitement of what I want to use?

Do I adjust my talking speed in the middle to account for the timing?




That’s it!


I realized that there is no way that I could really say what I wanted, in the format and flow that I wanted in a “normal” way in four minutes so what I needed to do what use one of my other talents – the ability to talk really fast.


If I sped up in the middle of my talk the cadence would throw people off and possibly loose them.  But if I started and stayed at high speed it would be consistent and just might work.


People can listen to fast talking and get what is said.


The result – about an eight minute talk in four minutes that was very well received.  Oh sure, the speed talking was entertaining, but people also got the message; they heard it, they understood it and hopefully someone got it.


This experience reminded me of a line of thinking that I believe my dad instilled in me: use what you’ve got.


I was a short kid, a skinny kid and a girl.  I was also a tomboy so all the prior qualities were kind of detriments to that.  But he taught me to use what I’ve got to do what I want.  No excuses, just alternatives.


Instead of looking at a problem or goal and thinking about how you cannot accomplish it because you lack certain things, he taught me to look at it and figure out how I am going to succeed based on what I have or know.


Whether you are stuck in a situation, take a step back and think about using what you’ve got to solve the problem.  You may not have the education that a company is looking for in hiring for a position, but maybe you have the experience or life skills that compensate or outshine that diploma.  Use what you’ve got.


And use it to your advantage.


Here is a link to the video of the talk, I hope you enjoy it.



Lisa K McDonald – Gratitude: Three Legged Dogs and Piles of Poop



I think my dad would have, but he certainly would not have been surprised by the speed talking.  He got used to that many years ago.


Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Brand Strategist & Career Coach

Certified Professional Resume Writer



Sometimes it is my best friend’s job in life to tell me to breathe. 

Today is one of those days.  For some reason things culminated this morning.  It started with my smallest dog eating two baby bunnies right in front of me while I was trying to save the nest. 

I do not do well with bad things happening in nature and especially to baby nature so this was horrific for me.  Let’s just say I would have never made it on the farm. 

The rest of the nest is fine, I have relocated and I believe momma bunny has found them and they are still alive and doing fine.  Whew.

But something else happened this morning that really hit me on a personal and professional level.

My best friend lives in another state and being a big ol’ corporate girl and single mother of two teenagers, she is an extremely busy woman.  Most of our communication comes throughout the day in texts.  I sent her a very brief message about this incident and her response was this:


I kept repeating that word while I was working through the issue.


I had to make myself take deep breaths when I started to get upset.


I have done what I can and now I am waiting.


I know in that one word what she is telling me.  Relax, take a deep breath in and release it.  Release it all.  Have you done your best?  Have you given everything you can in the upmost manner with the best of intentions?  (Yes)  Then breathe, let it go.  There is no longer anything you can do to affect the situation. 

With the simple act of taking a deep breath in and releasing it slowly you physically allow yourself to release the situation. 

Let it go.

Bad things happen.  Mean people suck. Life is a balance of the good and the not so good.  Without the not so good, how would we know how good the good really is?

Things happen that are out of your control.  Then there are times that you do have a measure of control and it is just not pleasant.  You will get through it.  You will learn something from it.  You will survive it.  You will have a better day.

All you can do is your best, with the best of intentions, and then let it go. 



Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Brand Strategist and Career Coach

Certified Professional Resume Writer


I’m a Quitter

I will admit it; I have quit at many things over my lifetime.  I’m not done, either.  I am a quitter. 


I quit playing Horse with my son the day he could dunk.  That was just no fun anymore, well, it was for him.


I quit in relationships.  When I felt I was having the life sucked out of me, I quit. 


I quit jobs when I outgrew them.


I quit taking myself for granted or putting myself on the bottom of the list.


I quit trying to live up to other’s expectations.


I quit ignoring the little things around me.


I quit beating myself up with my failures.


I quit; over and over again, I quit.  This has led to a much healthier and happier life.


I am proud to say I am a quitter.


My son and I found other interests that we could enjoy together and continued to have great family time.


I was able to allow people who brought value into my life and have healthier relationships.


I learned new skills, grew in my abilities and increased my ability to add value to my clients.


I learned how to say no, take time for myself and grow stronger emotionally, mentally and physically.


I set my own expectations and learned to appreciate the uniqueness of myself.


I learned gratitude for all of the blessings, large and small in my life and the blessings increased and expanded.


I learned that each failure was actually a lesson; an opportunity for growth. 


We have such negative associations with words, isn’t it time that we break those rules?  Stop looking at seemingly negative events and actions as life-ending, catastrophic measures.  Perhaps if we could just change our perspective just a bit we could see that these events and actions are actually positive.


I quit on the things that no longer served me, that held me back from being able to be the best person, friend, mother and professional that I could be.  Those are the things that I quit. 


So yes, I am a quitter, and I am a better person for it.


Lisa K McDonald, CPRW

Career Coach & Brand Strategist

Certified Professional Resume Writer

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