4 Step Plan for an Awesome Resume

My dad was a mechanic. My grandfather was an electrician. My uncle led a construction crew. My DNA is programmed to build things.

It’s how I look at resumes. Building a brand.

With any good build, you need a plan. Sequential steps with each action building on the last.

For a quick read and a plan of action to help you with your resume, here is my simplified plan of four steps to build your brand for an awesome resume.


Before we build there is one critical step – you have to know your goal. What job are you targeting? You may be interested in several avenues, but your foundation is for one.

Step 1. Position Purpose

What is the bottom-line purpose of the position? Narrow down the entire scope to one statement. Keep reducing it until you get to the bottom-line impact value. For example: maintain revenue streams and retain clients. Or: protect a book of business from risk.

Boil it down. There may be more than one purpose. This is barebones. It doesn’t have to be pretty. It will generally fall into something to do with time or money in one form or another.

Step 2. Core Drivers

Again, we are focusing on broad strokes. There are normally three to five activities that you must do to achieve the position’s purpose. List these things. What are those things? Perhaps one is to oversee system and quality assurance processes (CTO) or maintain records of financial transactions (Bookkeeper).

Step 3. Primary Actions

Now let’s start digging in. Under each of the core drivers, what does that entail? How do you do those things? Who do you work with, how, what do you do and how does something benefit from your involvement?

Step 4. Differentials

Here is the icing on the cake, putting you in your brand. How do you do the things in your chart that is different or better than anyone else? What makes you stand out among your competition? What skills or strengths do you use in completing the primary actions?

This is the blueprint to create an authentic brand that distinguishes you, supported by demonstrated value and speaks to the needs and critical points of the desired position.

When you cover all of those bases, you’ll be the top candidate for the job.


⇒⇒⇒ Want a kickstart – click Awesome Chart! to download our free blueprint chart to help you get started charting the most important elements for your resume and brand. ⇐⇐⇐

Need a little more kick and some coaching to get you clear and on your way? Click here to set up a free consultation to see how we can get you momentum in the right direction.


As a triple certified as a Professional Resume Writer, Career Coach and Social Media Brand Analyst I help amazing professionals get career happy.
Click here – CareerPolish.com – to find out more.





You Get The Most out of Your Resume – and Vacuum Cleaner – When You Turn on the Power


Someone asked me the other day,

“Why do I have to detail what I’ve done in my resume? If they list a task as a requirement and I list it as a duty on my resume, won’t they assume that I meet that qualification? Isn’t that good enough?”

I don’t know when they reincarnated as my son when he was a teenager.

Let me respond to those questions in reverse order:

The answer is no.

The answer is no.

Oh, for goodness sake son, stop being lazy.

My son is in his mid-twenties now. I’m not sure how he survived his teenage years, but here we are. The thing about my son at that age was he was (and is) incredibly smart. Like scary smart.

He was also crafty. If there was a way to not do something, even if it were ten times more work to do what was asked, he would find a way. He always had an argument on why the lazy or lesser way was “acceptable”.

He was tasked with cleaning his room. Not a lot to ask. Yet it was a constant nightmare. Let’s use this example – specifically vacuuming his room – to relate back to the question at hand. (I don’t know why he had the biggest aversion to vacuuming, who doesn’t love those nice clean lines in carpet??)

Why can’t I do the bare minimum – list the job description as my bullet points. Because it is like vacuuming without plugging the thing in or turning it on. You’re barely going through the motions but it’s not saying (or doing) anything.

Won’t they assume I’m qualified? Just because my son said he vacuumed, I never assumed he turned it on. He may have drug it around his room to get fake lines. My brother taught me to spell assume with, “Never assume, it makes an ass out of you and me”. Assuming is bad.

Here’s the other thing – you have competition. Let’s say you are going to apply for a job. The prospective employer has listed the duties for this job and one is to vacuum.

In your resume you list that you vacuum, or have vacuumed before.

They don’t know how you vacuum or if you’re one of those that run a vacuum cleaner without turning it on to get the fake lines. You’re leaving that assumption up to them.

Now let’s say your competition lists that they:
– Turn on the machine when they vacuum
– Vacuum the entire area
– Use the brush attachment and clean the baseboards
AND THEN put on the skinny attachment and suck up all the cobwebs in the corners, windows, closets etc.

Which one do you think the employer is going to want to talk to?

To get the job you want you need to do two things (beyond qualify for the basics of the job):

1. Distinguish yourself (what are your differentials?).

2. Prove your value to them (the ROI in hiring you).

Know your worth to outshine your competition, get the interview and negotiate stronger.

If you’re going to go to all the trouble of pulling out the vacuum cleaner and drag it around the room, why not turn the darn thing on and do it right? It will give you much better results.

As to the conclusion of vacuuming saga of my teenage son – when he moved out I ripped up all his carpet and threw it in the dumpster. Then installed hardwood floors.

Who, besides me, loved Michael Keaton as Mr. Mom?? He’s still dreamy!!



Having trouble trying to describe your vacuuming prowess? Let’s have a conversation. Click here Let’s talk! to set up a time for us to talk about how we can power up your Resume, LinkedIn or job search.

As a triple certified as a Professional Resume Writer, Career Coach and Social Media Brand Analyst I help amazing professionals get career happy.
Click here – CareerPolish.com – to find out more.

Why Your LinkedIn & Resume Are Flatlining – And How To Revive Them

Are you sending out resumes that are getting lost in the blackhole of no responses?

Are people looking at your LinkedIn but not connecting or responding?

These are two strong indicators that your resume and LinkedIn profile are dead. Or dying a slow painful death.

What happened? You’re using keywords to describe your experience. It should be obvious that you are a match. Why won’t someone talk to you? Why is your resume or LinkedIn on life support or worse?

Because you are not talking with anyone. You’re writing at them.

That’s the cause of death.

Here are the symptoms

Is your job description your main points? Are you trying to talk “resume” or “professional”? If so, you’re not engaging. You are not only killing your brand; you’re killing the conversation before it starts.

You’ve got your eyes closed, hands over your ears talking in a different language to the person in front of you. You can’t have or invite a conversation that way, now can you?

Here’s the why

Resumes are a funny thing. No, strike that. Resumes stink. They are in a weird language, use the assumed “I”, and you’re not sure of what to include, how, or even the current rules. Writing your resume is a frustrating, mind numbing, nerve racking, exercise of torture.

Given this set up, is it any wonder that most people do what is easiest – use their job description as bullet points? No, of course not.

But easy isn’t always right.

The problem in doing so is many:

  1.  You are not conveying value.
  2. You are writing what you were hired to do.
  3. No one cares what you were hired to do.
  4. They only pay attention to what happens when you do it.
  5. They only care when it relates to them – what can you do for them.

In other words: boring, irrelevant, snooze fest, they have moved on. That’s if someone actually reads it. If it is your resume, it probably hasn’t passed the ATS system. But that’s another conversation.

Here’s the fix

Stop trying to be the right words and be you.

Have a conversation. I know resumes are a bit awkward. I call them an arm’s length conversation. You aren’t sure who is going to read them so it might be a bit removed, but you are still having a conversation.

Talk to them!

Take those bullet points, job duties, and bring them to life. Tell them why they want to talk to you. Break them down to include points of interest. Do so by examining them with these questions:

  1. Who did you work with?
  2. How did you work with them?
  3. What did you do?
  4. How did something or someone benefit from this?
  5. How is it better since YOU did it?
  6. What is unique about how you did it?
  7. What was the problem?
  8. Why was there a need for this?

It’s a bit of storytelling, a dash of context, sprinkling of keywords, and a whole lot of demonstrated value. Mix this all up and you have a conversation starter.

Talk with your reader. Imagine them asking you a question – “tell me about a time you fixed this problem”. Then answer it speaking to them directly, without the $10 words and fluff. Tell them what matters to them in a fast and understandable way.

If you drone on in person, people will tune you out. Drone on in your resume, they do the same thing.

Now LinkedIn is a bit different. The conversation changes. Instead of an arm’s length, it is now a one-on-one with the person you want to read your profile.

Think of it – and write it – from this context. You’re sitting in one of those ridiculously overstuffed chairs in a foo-foo coffee house across from your target reader. They ask you to tell them about yourself.

How do you answer that?

If you answer it like your resume, “I’m a senior technical professional with 20+ years’ experience….” Zzzzzzzz You killed the conversation. Why? Because no one talks like that in real life!

Answer it as a person. A real-life person facing another real-life person. What would you say – in person – in that casual, professional environment?

One of my most favorite examples is a client with boundless energy. And a LinkedIn opening of: “I am a TITLE with COMPANY who covers TERRITORY.” Zzzzzzz

We captured her energy by opening a conversation with an engaging statement that represents her, her industry, and her clients. In less than 10 seconds you know she is an influencer, a winner with a healthy balance of work and play.

We used “me”, “my”, “I” and “our” in her profile. She is talking directly with her audience.

Her views shot up 300% in the first week and recruiters were engaging with her.


Yesterday I talked to a young man frustrated at the lack of responses and engagement. When he explained to me one of his bullet points, he could tell me the value. His resume was a job duty. He exclaimed, “I don’t know what to say or how to say it!

My answer – to him and to you – stop talking at someone using words, phrases or even a style that isn’t natural. Pretend you are talking to me. And be you.

You are going to get noticed and hired due to a combination of things. Your experience, skills, expertise, and/or potential. But don’t forget the most important part of that equation, what it all starts with, even that sentence: you.

How can you tweak your profile to invite a conversation?


As a triple certified as a Professional Resume Writer, Career Coach and Social Media Brand Analyst I help amazing professionals get career happy.

Click here – CareerPolish.com – to find out more.

Resumes & Interviewing – What To Do With That Wackadoodle Job

I have purple hair. Wasn’t supposed to, didn’t mean to – but there it is. It is a lovely combination of deep lavender melded within dark silver…

Whatever. You can put a pig in Armani and it’s still a pig.

My hair is purple.

It’s about now that one of my favorite sayings comes into play: failure isn’t fatal. Winston Churchill, Mike Ditka, and Don Shula said some version of this, but the bottom line is the same:

Failure isn’t fatal.

This is not fatal. Now I find it hysterical. Because it freaked Chief out.

I have long hair and a boyfriend who really likes my long hair and really, really likes it blonde.

When he first saw it, I can’t count the number of “𝘖𝘏. 𝘔𝘠. 𝘎𝘖𝘋. 𝙬𝙝𝙖𝙩 𝙝𝙖𝙥𝙥𝙚𝙣𝙚𝙙???” that came out of him. It’s 𝙢𝙮 𝙝𝙖𝙞𝙧 but he’s the one having a meltdown. One more guy thing I don’t understand.

But I digress.

My point was this isn’t going to kill me. No mistake or failure is really can’t be classified as a failure if you learn from them.

What I have learned – some people aren’t the best with toners and my hair really takes to purple and not in a pretty purple sort of way.

So what does purple hair have to do with careers and resumes? Don’t freak out over your purple hair position. Temporary purple hair is your wackadoodle job.

Maybe somewhere in your career, you had a job that made absolutely no sense to your career. It was a filler or a mistake. Whatever it was, you feel like it is the pink elephant in the middle of your resume or in your interview.

It’s not.

There is something to be learned or gained from every single position that you take. You learned or reinforced a skill. Discovered something new. That discovery doesn’t have to be positive. You may have learned that you really, really don’t like that industry or type of position. That’s still learning something.

Now take it to the next level. If you learned you didn’t like a certain aspect or job, turn it into a positive. It pushed you to dive into another aspect, more education, training, or something that was a better fit.

Spinning the experience to a positive show maturity and intelligence. That is something an employer wants to see and hear.

Pretty much everyone has had a weird job that made no sense, was a disaster or a mistake. And pretty much everyone survives from them. It’s all in your perception and what you choose to do with the experience.

Have some fun with it. The more positive and light you can be about it, the less it will concern others.

For me, I’ve got a couple weeks before my next speaking engagement… I may let the purple reign just to torture Chief a bit longer. That’s not too mean, give me a break here, I’ve got to have some fun with this purple hair!


As a triple certified as a Professional Resume Writer, Career Coach and Social Media Brand Analyst I help amazing professionals get career happy.

Click here – CareerPolish.com – to find out more.

Your resume is a persuasive conversation – why aren’t you doing the talking?

I heard Tony Robbins say, and I’m going to paraphrase, that it is vital to know your desired outcome before you have a conversation. That way you can guide it to what you want and maximize your time. A few intents can be to inform, convey, or persuade.

Sounds like a resume to me.

Inform the reader of your qualifications, convey your value and persuade them to set up an interview.

Your resume is that initial conversation. Unfortunately, I see too many people figuratively standing in front of your target (your resume) but not doing any talking.

Let’s discover the three biggest challenges that hold most people back and get rid of that block right here and now.

Challenge 1 – Too much information

Do you know if you search for “how to write a resume” on Google, you will get 381,000,000 results in .55 seconds? I did it. Here’s my screenshot:

google search write a resume - lisa k mcdonald

That’s way too much information to read. Beyond that, I’ll bet you dollars to donuts that it is mostly contradictive. One article says to do this, another says oh no, do the opposite. It’s just too much. And no, the irony of me saying that in an article about writing your resume is not lost on me.

Step away from the research.

Challenge 2 – Talk yourself out of it

I call this the lack of permission. Let me explain.

You see, you know what you need to write.

Yes, you do.

No really, I’ll prove it to you. Answer the following questions out loud:
• What will you be doing?
• How will it impact a business, team, client base?
• What are the skills necessary to do this job?
• Can you do or have you done these things for a positive outcome?
• Prove it.

That right there – the prove it, that is important. If you were to prove it to me, you would be telling me a story demonstrating your skills, experience and results.

Don’t you think that would persuade or convince a reader that you have the necessary skills? Possibly persuading them to have another conversation?

Here is where the permission comes into play. Generally, people are afraid to write down the conversation we just had above. They say things like:
• It doesn’t sound right for a resume.
• It sounds too informal.
• They don’t know ‘resume’ words
• It’s not what they are used to.

They talk themselves out of using the good stuff because it feels different.

Let me help you with this.

It is different. And by the way, normal person, you don’t write resumes every day. How do you know what it should sound like, feel like or look like? You don’t. (I say normal person because, well, have you ever met a group of people like me? We’re definately unique in that we really like writing resumes! We know that isn’t normal, but we love it anyway!)

Oh wait, all your research tells you…. Yes, I know. But get out of your head for a minute. Remember, step away from the research. Engage more than that one section of your brain.

Tell me if you have ever thought or muttered this phrase (or something similar), “if I can just get in front of someone, I have no problem talking about/selling myself”.

If so, then you are only giving yourself permission to have that conversation during an interview, not the resume. But guess what, if they don’t know it in the resume, why would they want to set up an interview?

I am officially eliminating that excuse. I hereby give you permission as a Certified Professional Resume Writer, Certified Social Brand Analyst and Certified Career Coach.

Don’t wait for the interview. Prime the pump, get them excited – tell them what you want them to know!

Just do it!

You need to set that stage – tell them how you are the answer to their problem. Set the foundation in their mind of you, your value, your brand, your voice. Don’t waste this opportunity to tell them what they need to hear because you’re afraid of telling them what you want them to know.

Challenge 3 – They may not like it

You’re right. Some people are not going to like what you put together. I’ve been doing this for over a decade and I still can’t please every reviewer, recruiter, HR person or Great Aunt Gertrude every single time.

Some people like one page, others like three, some hate Times New Roman, others scoff at Calibri, some like visuals, others think they are distracting, there is too much information, not there isn’t enough, it should be pink, it should be red, no it should be a freankin’ rainbow…sorry, I digressed into Alex’s speech on Greys’ in planning the prom.

The point is, no, not everyone is going to like it. The point of that is good. You want it to appeal to the people and company cultures that are most like you or that are best in supporting your growth and value. Not every company is a good fit for you.

Let your value and brand shine through in your resume to do some pre-screening of companies that either don’t deserve you or are a bad fit for you.

You have permission, you know what you want to tell them – now go have some fun with it!

What challenges do you face in trying to put together your resume or LinkedIn profile? 



As a triple certified as a Professional Resume Writer, Career Coach and Social Media Brand Analyst I help leaders break out of a suffocating corporate existence and into a position and place that renews their brilliance. I get people unstuck and gain momentum in their careers.
Click here – CareerPolish.com – to find out more about we can work together to get you moving forward.

If You Can’t Sell Yourself, How Do You Expect A Recruiter To?

Do you know how many times a recruiter hears, “just get me in, and I can sell myself.”?

A lot.

Hey, I’m all for confidence – more power to you.

This is a BS statement when it is coupled with a resume that doesn’t demonstrate how their qualifications are a solution to that company’s problem. That’s right, I’m immediately throwing the BS flag in this article.

Hey wait a minute, I know what I am worth, I know I’m the solution or savior here, I know how to sell myself – why is that BS?

Because the theory behind this does not jive with the practical application you are employing.

Are you expecting to just have a conversation with the recruiter and they will then translate all your goodness to the prospective employer in order that you will get the interview?

Shame. Shame on you.

You want the recruiter to get you in there, for goodness sake, help them out!
Most recruiters I know are not going to redo your resume, and they shouldn’t. Their time is valuable and their talents aren’t in resumes. It is in matching solutions (you) to problems/needs (their clients – technically their client’s problems or needs).

If your resume doesn’t prove this, odds are you really can’t sell yourself. I’m not trying to be harsh, just help you out.

Your resume is setting the stage. It’s getting the prospective employer to get excited. It’s setting the tone of your brand. If you have a recruiter who can talk you up and get an employer interested, there is going to be a step back when the employer sees that lackluster resume.



If you have the goods (and you do), it should come across in everything about you: your LinkedIn, your resume, your interview – every conversation, everything about you.

The reality is, writing your resume is hard and it sucks.

Holy cow, trying to capture what they want to hear, putting it in a way that doesn’t sound like your bragging, making sure it has the right verbiage – that’s a lot of work. It isn’t done in a day. And it’s not something to overlook or take for granted.

You’ve got to know what is important to that industry or company. What are their challenges? You also have to demonstrate your knowledge, expertise or experience in solving similar problems so they can clearly see that if you have done it before, you are more than likely able to do it again – for them.

Giving your recruiter a plane jane resume then asking them to talk you up is like having your buddy try to set you up with someone you are keen on but don’t give them any selling points. So they end up telling that person that you have a ‘great personality’.

Maybe you do have a great personality, but wouldn’t it be better to tell them that you haven’t missed a single opening day at Wriggly Field if that person is a Cubs fan?

Give your recruiter something to work with – it makes their job easier, which translates to getting you in the door faster. Have a quality resume.

I’m not saying that you have to hire me – I’m not saying not to either. What I am saying is to invest in yourself. If you don’t want to make the financial investment to hire a professional, then make the time investment in yourself.

It’s not just for the recruiter or the employer – it’s for you. It will help you clarify your value and develop those impact stories for the interview or networking. Here’s a little help to give you a head start. An article about the two most important elements that need to be demonstrated in your resume: How to Make Everyone – Including you – Stop Hating Your Resume.

That investment will pay off, in spades. Aren’t you worth it?

End Note: if you have tried to write your resume or realize that you can’t or don’t want to, I do welcome you to check out my business site: Career Polish to find out what it is I do, why I love career branding so much and how I can help you.

As a triple certified as a Professional Resume Writer, Career Coach and Social Media Brand Analyst I help leaders break out of a suffocating corporate existence and into a position and place that renews their brilliance. I get people unstuck in their careers.
Click here – CareerPolish.com – to find out more about we can work together to get you unstuck

How to Make Everyone – Including You – Stop Hating Your Resume


Let’s have a shout out – who likes to read resumes?




That’s what I thought. Now imagine if you had to read resumes a lot of resumes – to find the right person for your organization. How much would you enjoy your day?

Why do resumes have such a bad rap? Let’s take a look at some resume language that is very common:

“Experienced XYZ looking to use my leadership and MNO skills to improve blah, blah, blah…

“Responsible for we have already lost interest in whatever this might be….”

Or how about bullet points that are a recap of the job description:

  • Organize and coordinate operations in ways that ensure maximum productivity
  • Supervise employees and provide feedback and counsel to improve efficiency and effectiveness
  • Maintain relationships with partners/vendors/suppliers
  • Gather, analyze and interpret external and internal data and write reports
  • Assess overall company performance against objectives

Ugh! It’s all a big snooze fest. Not only is it boring, it is painful to read. Why? Because, in essence, the person hasn’t told you anything and it doesn’t even sound like a person!

There are two critical elements that every resume needs to get – and hold – the attention of the reader. Your value and your voice.


Please, please, please stop using your job description as your bullet points. That is telling the reader what you were hired to do, not what you did. Instead, use these as a starting point.

For example: organize and coordinate operations in ways that ensure maximum productivity.

There is no ROI in that statement. It is missing your value. Expand on that by answering who you worked with, how, what you did and how productivity was maximized. Give metrics if possible, if not, describe the before and after.

I want to meet the organization who’s operations are simple enough for one bullet point. Really? Operations covers quite a bit of ground so break it out – show your value across the whole stream. There will be more value and beneficiaries. These could be the company, clients, processes, team, or an individual.

That is a lot of ground to cover – start writing it out. The more the merrier. It gives you more to play with when you are ready to start ruthlessly editing.

Which leads right into the second critical component: your voice


Please, please, please stop trying to write in ‘resume language’. It sounds unnatural and fluffy full of filler words. Your resume should speak to the reader and it should sound like you. Most of us do not litter our conversations with hundred dollar words when a ten cent-er will do.

Start with the dime conversation. Write out what you do as though you were talking to a real person. Go into detail, be natural, and use words that feel right to you. Don’t even think about putting it in a resume yet, just talk/write like a real person.

Once you get a mound of information, now the fun begins! Time to slice and dice. Look for commonalities that you can group. Is there a shorter way of expressing those two sentences? Ask yourself, what is the real point of these sentences, what do I most want them to know? Start there, then fill in the how’s.

Don’t take anything you do for granted. You may think everyone does what you and the way you do. They don’t. How you approach, solve, or plow through processes or projects is what makes you different.

Differentials are golden. Polish that gold by using your voice. Enhance your voice by using a thesaurus. “Manage” and “responsible for” get old quick. The thesaurus is your friend!

Keep editing, trimming and making sure your words are in there. That is how your voice will come through.

Oh, let’s not forget the keywords. These are critical for a little thing called ATS. Applicant Tracking Software. That is the wonderful tool that most companies use to screen your resume. They are looking for those keywords to qualify or disqualify you for the position.

The best place to find keywords is the job description. Where do you think the ATS gets them?

Just to make it more fun, ATS is getting smarter. It used to be that it only counted the number of key words in the resume. Now some software has evolved to be able to understand concepts. For example, if it is a project manager job, one camp of ATS is looking – and counting – ‘project management’.  The second camp of ATS understands context. It knows that “Managed this project” means project management and it counts.

Incorporate the keywords – and your words – into value rich bullet points. The result will be a resume that the reader will understand and want to find out more.



 I 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.

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How To Get Rid Of The Snooze In Your Resume

Snooze Resume

Manage. Responsible. Oversee. Blah, blah, blah.

These are words we often see in resumes but they are words that I call snooze words.  Really, how excited do you get when you read:

  • Manage a team of five.
  • Responsible for Midwest Territory.
  • Oversee client accounts.

I would venture to say not very excited. The words are boring and the sentences tell you nothing – nothing – about the individual or their value.


Not only do you want your resume read, you want it to mean something to the reader. The above bullets are void of meaning. They are job descriptions, i.e. what you were hired to do.

The problem with that is this: just because you were hired to do that, doesn’t mean you did it well.

The first part of waking up that resume is to dig a little deeper. What exactly does each one of those statements mean and what does it mean to the reader?

You are writing for the reader. Your main job is to answer their number one question: what can you do for me?

Let’s start with where we are – a boring, non-value statement. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Who do I work with when I do this task?
  • How do I work with them?
  • What do I do?
  • How does someone/thing benefit from my involvement?

Time to dig. What exactly does it mean to be “responsible” for a territory?

The Who: If you oversee a territory – who do you interact with? Do you have anyone that reports to you? Is there a budget? Or are you an individual sales – if so, who are your clients, partners or stakeholders?

The How: If you manage a team, how do you help them do their job better? If you are a solo sales, how do you build and maintain your client relationships? Do you have a hand in the budget?

The What: When you work with a team, what do you do to inspire them, eliminate problems for them, or improve their performance?  For solo sales, what makes you better at what you do – what do you do differently than anyone else? What strategies or tactics have you employed that have benefited your clients, you or the company? If you work with the budget, how do you keep it in line or how do you save the company money?

The Value: Does the company benefit from the above by having an increase in client accounts or revenue? Did you save the company money? Does your team benefit from your coaching by posting better numbers? Does the company clients benefit because they get better service?

Dig, dig, dig. Keep asking questions about what is involved. Remember, everything you do has value to it or you would not be paid to do it. Write all these things in a conversational tone – do not try to write ‘resume’ at this point.

Now you might come up with something like this (for solo sales):

“I work with clients to help them understand the tax change. In the territory, the state changed its taxing structure from a flat rate to a weight based. This was a huge problem for our clients. I figured out how to work within the system in terms of ordering and inventory so that the new change wouldn’t impact them and it ended up saving them millions of dollars in both taxes and inventory – win-win!”

That is quite a bit for a bullet point, but that is okay, it is a great start! Now let’s get down to the fun stuff – trimming it down and making it meaningful.

Take the most important elements of your first paragraph: work with clients on strategy, tax changes, saving millions in inventory and taxes.   This, my friends, is the basis of your bullet. We could say something like:

  • After tax changes, worked with clients on strategies that saved millions in inventory and taxes.

We could. But it is a bit boring, don’t you think? What is the most important part of this sentiment? That you saved clients millions in inventory and taxes. Then we should follow with the how. Grab your reader’s attention immediately with a benefit.

Saved clients millions in inventory and taxes  – that is our beginning.  Now the how: coming up with a strategy to counter the tax changes.

Ok, that might work, but I think we could punch it up a bit more…..

  • Saved clients millions in inventory and taxes by creating and implementing a strategy that countered recent tax changes.

Still a little boring. Also, we have an assumption in there. If it saved them millions, it is assumed it was implemented.  How about….

  • Saved clients millions in inventory and taxes with a strategy that countered recent tax changes.

Not bad. Not great, but not bad.  You know, we have some space here to talk about how that change was going to hurt them.

  • Saved clients millions in inventory and taxes with a strategy that countered recent tax changes from flat-rate to weight based.

Hmmm.  It needs some punch and then I think we will have it.

  • Saved clients millions in inventory/taxes with strategy that thwarted crippling product tax change from flat-rate to weight-based.

Ahhh yes, that’s it.

The punch comes in the thwarting and crippling.

Here is the final step to get to the impact with punch – your friend and mine the thesaurus.  I have at least three thesaurus references that I use. I like to play them off each other so they don’t start slacking.

My favorite is: http://www.synonym.com/synonyms.  Simply type in a word and search.  It provides definitions, synonyms, and antonyms.  For any synonym in a blue box, just click on that word and it will repeat the process for it. Love it.




Next is good ol’ Merriam-Webster: https://www.merriam-webster.com/thesaurus. It comes with a definition, synonyms and related words. Also, a fun little word of the day – bonus!

Merriam Webster



Lastly, there is a visual tool, Graph Words: http://graphwords.com/.  It spiders out similar words that you can click on to get a whole new visual.


Graph Words


These are a few great sites – if you know of or use something different – I would love to hear about it!

When you are finding new words, make sure to use words that resonate with you.  By all means, if you are a more behind the scenes person, do not use a strong word like ‘revolutionary’ if it makes you feel uncomfortable. Find the right fit in describing your value with your voice. That is the winning combination! That is how you delineate your personal brand – your differentials.

All of these sites are free to use and can help put a little punch in your words for a more powerful resume.  Or, as provided my friend the thesaurus, have a resume that is more potent, effectual, compelling, coercive, mighty…..





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 ★




CIA Strategy Makes Your Resume Irresistible

CIA Resume Writing

Years ago TheLadders did a study and found that recruiters spend an average of six seconds reviewing a resume. Keep in mind that recruiters are this laser-focused because they do this regularly.

For other audiences, including HR and decision makers, they may give you a bit more time, let’s say maybe 10 seconds.

That is not a lot of time to grab attention and get your message across.

Why do they spend so little time on this initial glance? Because they know what they are looking for and they don’t want to waste time. From their first glance to a more in-depth review, there are two questions they are constantly asking:

What can you do for me?
Why do I want to talk to you versus anyone else?

Your audience is very stealth in reviewing/reading your resume and in order to get – and keep – their attention while answering their two burning questions, you have to be stealth, too.

Like the CIA.

Direct quote from http://www.cia.gov: “CIA’s primary mission is to collect, analyze, evaluate, and disseminate foreign intelligence to assist White House the President and senior US government policymakers in making decisions relating to national security.”

What is that person doing when reading your resume? They are collecting, analyzing, evaluating and disseminating intelligence – to do what – help the decision maker (or themselves) make a decision relating to hiring.

Once they analyze, evaluate, etc., they then provide reports or briefings. In our situation, they would make a recommendation. How do we provide a roadmap that makes it easy for them to recommend you as the best candidate?

Think CIA. No, not Central Intelligence Agency, our CIA stands for: Critical, Important and Assumed.

Once you have your baseline resume put together, now is the time to get strategic and use the CIA method.

Critical – what is most important to the company, position, and team etc.? These are keepers.
Important – what are your differentials and aspects that are important for the position? These are keepers.
Assumed – what are the elements, tasks, skills, duties, attributes that are going to be expected or are common? These are strike items.

We need to do this on every level within your resume. Let’s take a Bookkeeper for example. Their role, in general, is to create financial transactions and reports. Keyword phrases include issue invoices to customers and suppliers; cash receipts; tag and monitor fixed assets; monitor debt levels; reconcile accounts to ensure their accuracy, etc.

These are all expected and routine – i.e. assumed. We could waste valuable white space by listing them out as bullets (and sound like a job description) as such:

  • Tag and monitor fixed assets.
  • Pay supplier invoices in a timely manner.
  • Conduct periodic reconciliations of all accounts to ensure their accuracy.
  • Monitor debt levels and compliance with debt covenants.
  • Issue invoices to customers.
  • Issue invoices to suppliers.

Boring! Plus, that is a lot to read to just to cover the assumed. However, we do want to include these keywords for the ATS systems.

The solution: ruthless editing, as my mentor Deb Dib would say. Cut, cut, cut. So let’s redo this so it is human and ATS scan friendly:

Bookkeeper, Company Name, Time Period – Time Period
Brief description

Customer/Supplier Invoicing | Account Reconciliation | Fixed Assets | Debt Monitoring | Cash Receipts

• Now create bullets that demonstrate your value: what was the benefit to whom by doing what.

We can go even deeper within statements to clarify and condense.

If you had the following sentences:

Blah, blah, blah doing XYZ for A, B, C, and exceeding customer expectations. Delivers exceptional client experiences. Blah, blah, blah….

Let’s take a look at that. We can get rid of the “exceeding customer expectations” at the end of the first sentence because it is assumed that you exceed their expectations if you deliver an exceptional client experience.

See how this works?

It takes a lot more time and strategy to think CIA yet the results are well worth it. You will transform that blah, blah, blah resume into a branding piece with condense, impactful staements with plenty of white space, which makes it easier to scan, read and identify you as the prefered candidate.


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 ★

In Exercise and Resumes, You Have to Work Harder To Get Results

how i look when i run

I’m just going to warn you now, there is a bit of TMI in this article. As a professional storyteller, I find a touch of personal or a unique story makes content – and the point I am trying to get across – more relatable.  I apologize if this is more than you wanted to know, but I promise there is a point and a purpose.

Twenty years ago it was perfectly acceptable in your resume to simply list job duties. It was certainly easier. Just copy a job description and plop it right there in the experience section. It was ‘good enough’ to give the reader an idea of the job.

Yeah, well, twenty years ago I didn’t have to work so damn hard to not look like a marshmallow with toothpicks sticking out.

Here’s the problem, I have a tiny frame that is out of proportion. I have the same length of legs as my sister, who was about three inches taller than me. Somehow the DNA scrunched up my middle section. Translation – any time I put any weight on it goes straight to my gut and I look like a marshmallow.

Twenty years ago I could easily get rid of the marshmallow by cutting out the carbs for about a week and adding a bit of running on the treadmill to my walks and I hate running.   All while still pretty much eating anything I wanted. So not healthy.

Not anymore. This isn’t an age thing, although I am closing in on 50. This is a pre-menopause thing. (and….there is the TMI). Interesting fact – during pre-menopause it is notoriously common for women to put on weight and it goes straight to their midsection. Seriously, Mother Nature, that is like a double whammy to me! Good night, haven’t I suffered enough with hot flashes? Apparently not.

Lucky for me, I live with a workout nut. Chief works out two hours a day, six days a week. I now go to the gym every morning at the ungodly hour of 5 am and spend about an hour on the treadmill. I am using HIT to incorporate running. The good news – my legs are amazingly strong and look as good as they did twenty years ago. The bad news, it wasn’t enough. I was less of a marshmallow but still a marshmallow. So with a redesign of my eating habits and cutting out added sugar, I am slowly whittling away the marshmallow and getting healthier.  But I really miss my full-on sweet tea!

It is taking too long and is a heck of a lot more work than it was twenty years ago, but I will get my results.

Now, how the heck does that relate to resumes? Your resume is out of shape. Those job descriptions plopped in there – they just don’t cut it anymore.

Here’s the problem, they tell the reader what you were hired to do, no one cares what you were hired to do. They care about what you did.

What value did or do you bring to an organization? Anyone can claim that they are great at a certain skill, but can you prove it? You have to prove it. People reading your resume are only going to believe about half of what you say, so you darn well better prove it.

Lucky for you, I’m going to give you a workout regime that can turn that marshmallow into a four pack (I don’t have enough midsection for a six-pack, so we are going for a four pack).

Step one – warm-up: Determine what is important to the reader. What are their challenges or goals?


Step two – hours on the resume treadmill: For each bullet, break it down to who you worked with, how you worked with them, what you did and how they benefited.  Now, you will have stories to tell.


Step threeweightlifting: Determine your differentials. What makes you good at what you do? Is it your education, approach, skill set – what makes you better than anyone else in doing what you do? What makes you valuable to an employer?


Step four – cool down: Intersect the answers from step one with the answers to step three and support with the answers in step two.  That is your sweet spot.


Step five – cut the carbs and sugars: Cut, cut, cut your answers. This is what my mentor calls ruthless editing. Anything that is expected, implied or unnecessary – get rid of it. For example “Successfully launched program that generated 25% increase in ….” Get rid of ‘successfully’. It is implied that it is successful by achieving the results.


Step six – add the healthy stuff to your diet: Analyze job postings and descriptions to find keywords. Incorporate those into your resume. Mix it up by using the exact words and using them in context with synonyms. ATS systems either read by content (words specifically) or context (meaning). This means that if a keyword is project management, you can use those specific words for content and use ‘oversaw project….” and the context will understand that it is the same as the keywords even if not exact because oversaw is a synonym of managed. (ATS systems are the computer software that companies use to screen resumes).


Step seven – power up the impact: Front load your bullets to put the most important piece of information first. If you saved 30% in costs by redesigning a process, which is most important for the reader or in demonstrating your differential? Is it the cost reduction or the process improvement? Whichever is most important put it first.


With the work of following these seven steps and your new resume will put your old one to shame and get the healthy results you are looking for in your job search.




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 ★