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.

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Careful What You Wish For…

I saw a quote the other day that I absolutely loved, “Never stop learning because life never stops teaching.”


I find that there are lessons every day, if we are paying attention.  Sometimes it is our job to learn, sometimes to teach.  My boys are rarely thrilled when they are the recipients of the lesson and I am the teacher.  The dogs, on the other hand, seem perfectly fine with it.


As I was fixing a morning snack of crunchy peanut butter on toast, I had three sets of eyes glued on me.  Three cold little noses trying to sneak a sniff of the peanut butter as it was melting on the toast.  They really wanted that peanut butter.  I do not particularly care for noses near my food.


So I took out a piece of bread and spread the peanut butter on it and tore it into three pieces.  You would think I was rewarding their behavior, but hang in there with me.  As I gave each one their piece, at the last second I popped the peanut butter side to the roof of their mouth.


They got the peanut butter they wanted along with a lot of head tilting, tongue lashing and confused looks. 


And yes, I said it out loud, “Careful what you wish for.”


My puppies are adorable, sweet and a fountain of unending unconditional love; they also aren’t thinkers. 


They want something, they go after it, consequences be damned.  They do not have the same thought processes we do, or they have really bad memories.  I can attempt to explain consequences or ask them if they have thought this through; but they rarely answer.


As a Career Coach, I hear people frustrated with where they are often stating they want something completely different.  I’m good with that and fully encouraging of doing what you love to do.  I think it is great.  I just find myself in the role of devil’s advocate.


Have you thought this through?


Changing careers can seem like an easy fix or the one thing that will solve all your problems; but are you sure?  What will it take to get into the new career?  What skills are necessary?  What is going to be expected of you?  What is the negative side of where you want to go?  How long is it going to take you to achieve the level of success you desire?


That whole grass looks greener on the other side thing.


Before you start getting jealous of your neighbor’s yard, take a step back and see what it takes to get there.  Seeding, fertilizing, watering, cutting, mulching, trimming – it takes a lot of work to get it to look that nice.  You may just be seeing the end result of a LOT of work, time and money.  Once you get it to that stage, yes, it looks easy.


If you are not willing to commit to taking care of the grass, don’t wish for the perfect lawn. 


I am normally a stanch advocate for looking for the positive; however in this case, I am advocating for looking at the negative.  This will help you be fully prepared for what you want.  You will have a better understanding of the sacrifices that are required to get to that utopia.


What you might just find out is that your lawn looks pretty darn good.  Redirect your energy just a bit and it can become the lawn you wish for without having to start all over again.



Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Brand Strategist & Career Coach

Certified Professional Resume Writer


Know What You Are Getting Into

I recently contributed to an upcoming article about college degrees and real world jobs.  College students, whether right out of high school or adults returning to college commonly share one factor: not knowing what to fully expect once you earn the degree.


This week is Nurses Week and it made me think about my misconceptions about the profession.  Until about a decade, I honestly did not know the full extent of the work that they do at costs mentally, emotionally and physically.


What I had previously known of nursing was the people that came in, gathered relevant information, took vitals and occasionally poked me with needles.  They were always very pleasant, even with me having a thing about needles.


But when my son’s father was diagnosed with cancer in 2001 that changed.  These dedicated professionals still did the information gathering and vitals, but they did so much more.


They were the ones that when family was not there to provide support gave him encouragement.  They listened sympathetically to the heartache of the pain when there was nothing that they could do; they cheered for each positive step that achieved as much as the family.


They took the time to get to know the family, they would talk directly with my son, not to him or down to him or ignore him – but engage him and gladly answer any question he had.  They learned our routines and how best to communicate with us.


They supported my son and I as much as his father.  They were patient and kind even when we weren’t due to fear or frustration.  I used to bring in treats for them every week just as a simple gesture of saying thank you.


They all came in to give hugs when he was released with good news.  And they all came to visit him a few weeks later when he was admitted into the CCU.  Word spread quickly that he was in dire shape and every single nurse that had taken care of him through the battle with cancer each came to spend time with him and watch over him during their breaks, before or after their shifts.


Again, they gave support, encouragement and hugs – even when he wasn’t technically their patient anymore.  But that is another thing I learned, he would always be their patient.  I saw the worry and concern on their faces, answered their questions about how he was and the family.  They were my second support system.


They again cheered and gave hugs when he was again released with good news.


It has been 13 years and I still have such deep gratitude for these wonderful professionals.  It went well beyond medical care – it was empathy, compassion, concern, encouragement, faith and hope.


When considering a career or career change make sure you do your homework to really understand not just the duties, but all the affects of the job.  It will give you a clearer direction in your path.


And this week – be sure to thank any nurse you know.  A lot of us have our sanity and health thanks to them!



Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW


Interviewing: The Key Equation is Research + Practice = Preparation

 If you want to stand out in a positive way during an interview then preparation is the key.  Don’t prepare and you will stand out, but not in a positive way.  It really is that simple.

Job searching is not fun, it is not something people wake up one day and decide to do just for the heck of it – it is a necessity, it is hard work and it can be all encompassing.  Given that – why would you run the risk of not doing it well?  You really cannot afford to fail.

Especially at interviewing, you cannot afford to fail.  To have made it to the next round is a big step considering all the candidates that had to be pre-screened.  This is a major accomplishment and requires your full attention before, during and after the interview.

I read a great article geared toward interviewers on today, click here to read the full article: 3 Interview Questions That Reveal Everything.

It suggests after skimming the resume to ask the candidates three things: how did you find the job, what did you like about it before you started and why did you leave.

Oh yes, the dreaded “why did you leave?”  This is part of your preparation – you must be prepared to answer all the questions that make you uncomfortable.  Fine tune your answer and practice until you can deliver the right answer in the right way.  The right way is combing truth, confidence, opportunity and ownership all in a positive manner.

This article also serves as a great example of research.  Beyond researching the industry, the company, the job, the major players and interviewing techniques for candidates you should also research interviewing techniques for interviewers.  This helps you understand the process from the other side of the table.

Practice, practice, practice – I cannot stress this enough.  In your research phase you should be able to come up with a variety of examples to support your strengths, skills and accomplishments.  You need more than one in order that you can adopt to the environment of the interview.

If the interviewer is really stressing a team-oriented environment then you want to be able to deliver an example which demonstrates your strength within the context which is important to them.  If they focus on individuality then you should have examples of this, too.  Having several examples helps you be prepared.

Practice delivering these examples until you feel confident and calm.  Do not, however, memorize each example word for word.  When you get into the interview if you deliver it word for word as practiced you will come across as giving a speech rather than being engaged.

When practicing your answers, and if you have a telephone interview, the best place to be is in a bathroom with the door shut.  The acoustics are terrific, there is a mirror for you to watch your body language and you have the least opportunity to be interrupted by ringing phones, children, pets and outside distractions.

If you perform comprehensive research and practice extensively you will be prepared for not only the questions you could be asked but also the environment the interviewer establishes and this will make for a successful interview.

Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Career Coach-Strategist

Certified Professional Resume Writer

Career Polish, Inc.