Organize Your Resume to Organize Your Mind

organized closet

I am an organizational junkie.  I love reading, watching and listening to anything about organization; from the garage, kitchen, closets, office – any organizational tip I can find I read it or watch it with excitement.


I guess I am hoping one day all those shows, videos, books, articles and tidbits will magically sink in and make me organized!  I have a bit of dual personality when it comes to organization.  In my work I am laser-focused organized.  In my home – that is a different story.  Let’s just say it is a work in progress.


But I am hopeful and vigilant.  This weekend I tackled my bedroom closet.  I kept in mind some of the basic rules of organizing:


Purge:  Most every aspect of our life falls in the 80/20 rule.  Focus on the 20.


Decide: Right here right now.  For each item ask, “Do I love it? Do I use it?”  If you answer no then get rid of it.


Remove:  Be ruthless and bag or box any unloved or unused item and donate, sell or trash.


System:  Have a system in place.  Group like items, make it easy to see and find what you are looking for and if there are items that need attention be honest if you are actually going to give them that attention and if so then set a specific location for them to keep them all together.


Focus:  The driving force is the goal, not each item.  Focus on the overall goal and let go of the overwhelming desire to let the emotional attachment of each item drive your progress.


I will have to say my closet is looking pretty darn good.  I have sections that make sense to me, function, a lot of cloths to donate and a lot more breathing room in there.  I’m not completely done because now that it is starting to work for me I realize there are some more tweaks I need to do to make it a space I love.


This morning starting my day was much less stressful.  I could see everything clearly, decide quickly what I wanted to wear today and was able to get ready in much less time.  Total win for a Monday!


Maybe it was this new found freedom of stress that helped me realize an a-ha moment: these same rules apply to resumes, too.


I’ve said it before and I will say it many times again: your resume is the foundation of your job search.  It drives everything from your LinkedIn profile, interviewing, networking and job searching.  A good business bio does the same thing for your business in defining your LinkedIn profile, networking, customer communications and growth.  From here on out I will use the word resume, but keep in mind this applies to business owners and their own communication pieces.


If your resume is an unorganized mess than that is the impression you are giving the world.  Let’s use the same organizational rules to help tweak your resume without feeling overwhelmed:


Purge:  Let’s revisit that 80/20 rule.  For the position you seek or the career you desire you must first understand what is important in that role.  Then use that as the 20% to focus on with 80% of your resume.


Decide: Right here right now.  For each position, sentence, area of expertise item and bullet point ask, “Do I love it? Do I use it?”  The love it part is actually does it love me?  Does this item support you in demonstrating yourself as the best candidate?  If you answer no then get rid of it.


Remove:  All those miscellaneous items clogging up your resume that do not support you in the role you want – trash them.  Don’t waste the reader’s time with minutia when you want them to focus on the specific points of your value and overall skill set.


System:  Have a system in place.  Write toward the job you want rather than giving a cliff notes version of the jobs you have had.  Under each position group like items, make it easy to for the reader to find what they are looking for.  As for those items that need attention be honest if you are actually going to give them that attention and if not do not include them.


For example if you are barely functional on Word or Excel; first do not put that you are proficient because you would be lying.  Second, if you know you have a weakness with them are you going to go take a free class to brush up on your skills?  Great, leave it in; if not, take it out or else an interviewer is free to ask you about it and that could be a negative point if it was an unattended item.


Focus:  The driving force is the next position, not your past.  Focus on the overall goal and let go of the overwhelming desire to emotionally beat yourself up on past mistakes, poor position choices and seemingly unexplainable career history.


Again, write your resume looking forward, not back.  What in those past positions helped you in any way for that next job?  What type of skills or lessons were learned and how can you apply them?  There is a thread there; it is your job to find it in order to present it to the reader so they understand.  Putting it bluntly: if you can’t figure it out how on earth are they supposed to?



Once you have taken the time to organize your resume and get rid of all that unwanted clutter then take a break.  Come back to it with a relaxed attitude because what you are left with is what will fully support you.  Then you can start tweaking it and putting in the final touches that bring it all together.


With a clean, fresh resume you can confidently – and strategically – organize and implement your LinkedIn profile, networking, elevator speech, interviewing and career search.



Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Career Coach-Strategist

Certified Professional Resume Writer

Career Polish, Inc.


I Can’t Take One Step at a Time I Have a Marathon To Race Here!

drowning-in-messy-deskMy name is Lisa and I’m an unorganized organizational junky.

I am a freak about organization, I love watching videos about it, reading books, getting tips, listening to all the wonderful ways to completely organize your work, files, bills, food, house, kids, pets, life – anything you can lay your eyes on you can organize it. Love it!

Then add to that the practice of feng shui – total junkie. The removal of clutter, the balancing of all the elements, the peace, serenity, positive environment – just makes me all giddy inside.

Don’t do it, but I love it.

That is where the unorganized comes in. I get the process, understand the concepts and love the final look but to actually put that stuff in place – yeah, hasn’t happened.

Because I am completely overwhelmed by the most important step – getting started.

My problem is that I get all hyped up on feng shui ideas and organizational zest then I look up and see the room, closet, cabinet or whatever is right in front of me. And that is where the fun starts.

Let’s just take one example: my yard. Right now I could give the Clampetts a run for their money. I have weeds that are loving my flower beds, dandelions that are growing better than the grass, and mulch that has seen better days. That is just the front yard. The back is a total and absolute disaster.

I need to mow. My mower is still broken so I had to borrow my ex’s mower last night to mow today. I have to mow today because he wants it back tonight. That helps. But then there is the weed problem. I want to make the homemade weed killer that is not dangerous for animals – besides my pack running crazy in the back yard I have a whole host of critters visiting the front.

To make the homemade weed killer I have to make sure I have the right vinegar. Will any vinegar do, what is the right combination, now I will have to do some more research on the internet. To do that I need to find a notebook to take notes. Once I find the notebook I have to clean off my desk so I have room to write. Once I get the right formula and ingredients I need to find the sprayer.

But to do that I have to clean out the garage. To clean out the garage I need to get my car out of there. Once I get the car out then I have to empty everything out of the garage so I can figure out what is in there and what I can remove. Hoffa is probably in there somewhere for all I know.

To clean out the garage I also need to get heavy duty trash bags. I need to go to the store. If I go to the store I also need to get a weed eater. I have to use that in the back before I can cut because it is so high there is risk of killing the ex’s new lawnmower and that would not make him happy. Before I run to the store I need to clean out my car so I can fit stuff in my car.

Do you see what a horrible cycle this is? Don’t even get me started on doing spring clean laundry and not being able to because I have to find the ladder to take it outside to clean out the birds next in the vent and go to the store to buy a contraption that is bird proof to keep them out of my vent. And the guilt of what if there are already babies in there? Would I be killing them? Wouldn’t that be bad karma? Wouldn’t I be running the risk of getting pecked to death by angry mommmy birds just for wanting to do laundry???

It is exhausting in my head.

But I know it starts with a step. Step one: cut the front grass. I have to return a lawnmower.

Having a deadline or demand helps take that one step.

All of the above holds true for writing your resume. Wanting to update the whole thing, not knowing where to start, how to make it all flow, what information to use, what not to use, how to communicate, how long should it be – it is an overwhelming process.

Normally a resume does not get done until someone asks for it. Then the words (or something similar) “oh crap” immediately come to mind. Now you have to get it done.


Before that deadline comes up – just take it one step – or section – at a time.

Start with one job. Go back and write everything you did at that job. I don’t care if it is relevant or not, just write it down. The more you write the more you will remember. Write it in your own words, don’t try to write “resume” language, it will only frustrate you.

Once you have it in your own words then you can go back and edit, revise and tweak. Think about what is important to the next step you are trying to achieve. What is important to them, what do they need and how do you meet that need?

Then you can go to another job. Do the same process. Start with getting it all out of your head, then you can go back and modify.

Then you can move on to the opening statement. Now that you have completed all the jobs you have found the rhythm and important selling points of you. This is the time to start putting together clear, concise statements that outline and support what you have already written.

Once you have done that then you can go back and make it pretty. Picking fonts, bullet points etc to create a visual aspect that you like.

Approaching it one step at a time, one baby step at a time, will help you be able to put all the pieces together to have your resume ready for when you really need it.

Now it is time to take my own advice. Time to go cut the front grass. Oh crap, my neighbor is cutting his, time to do the mow of shame….

Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

What Is Your First Perspective of the Day?


drowning-in-messy-deskWhat is the first thing you see when you start your day?  What is the first site that helps you form what kind of day it is going to be for you that day?


Mine is a dog.  One of many, but I normally see a dog, followed by a cold nose nuzzle.  Either to gently let me know that they had a bit too much water before bed or it is too early please pull the covers back up.  I always start my day with a little nuzzle from a dog – which is a terrific way to start a day.


But when you get in your office or workspace – what is the first site you see?  No matter how warm and fuzzy I may be after starting my day with a loving nuzzle when I would walk in my office and sit at my desk if it was a mess my warm and fuzzies immediately changed.


This weekend we started our clearing kick and the first room was a terrific success.  The master bedrooms are officially clutter free and amazingly clean.  But I did a little change last week before we officially started – I started with my desk.  Since I spent as much time sitting in that one little spot as I do in my bedroom I thought I would take an hour and make some changes.


I realized that no matter how enthused I was about my day or my work my desk was not supporting those warm and fuzzy feelings.  It was piled with miscellaneous items and overflowing with haphazard items that made me feel confined, unbalanced and without direction.


This little area was screaming out for my attention.  It is my most important view throughout the day.  It is where I talk to my clients; compose LinkedIn profiles and resumes; plan meetings and get togethers and even take mental breaks.  It needed to be a space that I enjoyed and wanted to stay, not constantly fight the urge to run away from the confusion.


I took every thing off my desk – every thing.  Then I gave it a good cleaning.  I have a glass desktop so I got the glass cleaner and removed every single dogs smudge underneath and every wipe-erase marker note on top.  Clean!


Then I rearranged my monitor and computer.  I separated all the cords and reorganized them into a neat configuration rather than a tangled mess.   I moved the monitor to the other side of my desk so now when I look up I am facing the window rather than the doorway.  I would much rather look out and see the sunshine rather than the closed bathroom door.


Then I determined only what I needed on my desk and only what I wanted.  My little red binder now sits on my right; it holds my notepad and calendar.  Much easier to take notes and keep track of my to-do list since I am right handed.


Keyboard is a little off center toward the left, again supporting the window view, with the mouse next to it.  In front of that next to the monitor is a candle in the middle back of my desk.  I love scents and having it burn in front of me lends to me not forgetting to blow it out before I leave for the day.


On the other side of my monitor is an African violet my mom gave me.  I can now enjoy the beautiful blooms once I nurse it back to full bloom.  I also have a pretty little purple ceramic vase which hold only a few pens and pencils.  On the other back side of my desk are two candle holders which I really like and feel like they balance out the space.  Besides what I bring in to the office (drink or snacks) that is it for my desk.  It is clean, clear and honestly more relaxing.


When I get a call it is easy for me to find and reach a pen, open my little red binder, take notes and schedule appointments.  When the day is done, the pen is replaced, the binder is closed and the desk is a clean and fresh as I found it.


The first day I felt much more relaxed and refreshed – which is expected immediately after you make a positive change.  But after a couple days I realized another change – my dogs were more calm in my office, too.


I’ve implemented a bit of a change during office hours for the dogs – they are quarantined to the upstairs.  I found that they would know when I was immersed in a work project and would take that opportunity to go downstairs and find whatever trouble they could.  It was not a good way for me to end my work day.


The first couple of days they were a bit confused and not happy.  But after I implemented my clean desk policy I noticed that they all began finding spots within the office or just outside and would lay quietly and nap.  I think they picked up on my calm.


Now, let’s not go crazy and say that they are now perfect.  I was talking to a client the other day and Bandit decided he needed to go outside – now.  So he would sit on one side of my desk, then the other, and “talk” to me.  Giving a low rumble or whine.  I shot him a look but apparently this was one he was not familiar with as all of a sudden I heard my client laughing.  He asked what the noise was and I apologized that it was one of my dogs.  He said, “no problem – just glad it was an animal”.


The point is I changed the first thing I see when I start my work day and have seen an improvement mentally, physically and productivity-wise.


Sometimes the smallest changes make the biggest difference.  We look so far out beyond us that we forget that it is the immediate vicinity that is holding us down the most.  Before you begin making big plans and changes take a moment to look right in front of you.  What is supporting you and what is holding you back?


What can you do to change your environment – just a little – to make it a place that you want to be ands supports you while bringing you some measure of peace, joy or contentment?


Once you fix the immediate then you are in a better frame of mind to begin moving beyond and tackling those big projects.



Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Career Coach-Strategist

Certified Professional Resume Writer

Career Polish, Inc.