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.

 

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A little about me: I do what I love: help professionals break out of a suffocating job existence and into a career, position and place that renews their brilliance.

As the Founder and Principal of Career Polish, Inc., a national career personal branding firm, I am an Executive Brand Strategist, Resume Writer and Career Coach. I work with individual clients, companies, leadership and teams to identify, strengthen and effectively communicate their brand, engagement, commitment and most importantly – their value – by learning and leveraging personal branding as applied to LinkedIn, resumes, networking, communication, relationship management, presence and influence.

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

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

 

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Is Your Resume Speaking Their Language?

resume-speak-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 TagCrowd.com. 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:

tagcrowd-example-within-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.

 

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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 – CareerPolish.com – 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. 

 

Resumes: “Do NOT” ~ “Never” ~ “Always Avoid” – Enough Already!

burning resume

 

Being on a treadmill at 5 am is not my idea of a good time. I am not a morning person. Since it is safest for me not to talk to people that early in the morning, I normally peruse the news and LinkedIn.

I am not sure if it was that I am recovering from a nasty cold or the gentle reminder that I should not take the holidays off from the gym, but this morning was not only a little more painful than most, it was also very negative out there.

Scrolling through the articles I kept running across the most negative articles, things sounding similar to:

“X Things to Avoid at All Costs on Your Resume”

“What You Are Doing Wrong On Your Resume”

“Why Your Resume Stinks”

“Why You are Not Getting Hired”

“Why No One Wants to Interview You”

Two days after the holidays and the newsfeed turned all bah-humbug! Geesh!

Job searching in itself can be stressful; add in the holidays and it can really increase the stress factor.  Maybe it is just me, but I do not think smack in between the new year and merriment holidays is the time to scare the crap or chastise job seekers.

Let’s keep some of that holiday cheer.

So for anyone who is feeling their hand smacked a little by all the negativity, here are 5 things you are doing right:

  1. You are trying.
  2. You have a resume.
  3. You are not believing all the hype.
  4. You are looking forward.
  5. You are seeking the good.

These may not seem like big things, but they are, these can be the most important things anyone can do for success.

It is easy to get discouraged and stop trying. To keep trying takes guts.

There are no absolutes with resumes. If you read every article, compare notes and try to do exactly what each one says your head is going to explode.  There is a plethora of information available to guide you in writing your resume, the problem is, a lot of this information is contradictory.  One page, no two pages; include a summary, no make it a bulleted outline; do this no do that!  Enough already.

When reading all the articles, suggestions and tips what resonates with you? That is how you do not believe the hype – stay true to yourself. If it feels right to you, go with it. If your career life cannot be contained in a snazzy, condensed one page – then by all means, make it a solid, value-driven two.

No matter what is going on right now, no matter what rejection has come to pass, you are still looking. That means you are still looking forward – good for you. Something will hit, you will find the right job, at the right time in the way it is right for you. Keep going.

By continuing to move forward you are looking for the good. You believe there is something good that is going to come of all this, and you know what – it will.

Take a break from all the negative reviews and advice right now. Give yourself a pat on the back for the things you are doing right and remember these two things:

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” – Lao Tzu

“Put one foot in front of the other and soon you’ll be walking out the door.” – Kris Kringle/The Evil Winter Warlock, Santa Clause is Coming to Town.

 

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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 – CareerPolish.com – 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. 

Resumes – It Is Not Their Job To Care, It Is Your Job To Make Them Care

bored professionals

Once upon a time, it was standard format to have an opening statement on your resume stating what you want.  It went something like, “Amazing professional looking for the opportunity to grow and contribute to a progressive company….”

The problem with that today is twofold: The people reading your resume do not believe that nor do they care what you want.

It is not their job to care about what you want.  It is your job to make them care about what you offer. The focus of this article is that opening paragraph or lead of your resume.

Your resume is not really all about you – it is about what you can do for them.  Put yourself in their position: they have a boatload of yahoos applying for the position that you are perfect for – how are they going to find you?

You have to prove yourself.  You need to grab their attention by speaking their language and driving right to what is important to them and how you are the solution to their needs.

This opening paragraph needs to grab them and their interest to continue to read the rest of your resume.  To identify your value and peak enough interest for a conversation.

When I write resumes, this opening is the last thing I write.  I do a comprehensive analysis, review and composition of the work history to get a full understanding of my clients’ value.  I know in detail and have provided in demonstrative form their value.

Now I know what I am selling about them.  I know their value.  From that I can write to that in a condensed, attention getting manner.  It is the summary of the whole.

When writing your opening, analyze yourself and what it is about you that you are selling.

What do you bring to the table?  What are the most important qualities, skills, attributes that you bring that are of most value to them?  What sets you apart?

Often I see an opening stating that the individual has 15 years’ experience – is that the most important element?  It could be an important contributing factor, yet length of time in an organization or industry does not equate to quality or value.  What did you do in those 15 years, how is that a benefit?

That opening paragraph is your answer to their most important question: ‘What can you do for me?’

Do not let them assume.  It is not enough to say you are familiar with something, knowledge of it or have managed it.  You are assuming that they know that means you are good at this thing.  Telling the reader that you have managed a large group of people or locations does not mean you are good at it.  It means that was what your job was, not your value.

What was the value of you managing these people or locations?  How did you do it?  Who benefited and how – the individuals, teams, clients and company; was their improved performance, morale, communication, commitment, quality, service, revenues, opportunities – and what did that translate to?

Tell the reader not only what you do but why that is important.  You can manage a team but why is that important, what was the value?  Start with the meager ‘manage team of 50’ and integrate the value: aligned the company vision with short and long term goals engaging the team; reduced turnover, improved performance, realized year over year record setting profits, streamlined processes for reduced costs, increased efficiency and improved customer satisfaction.

Do not hold back here, you are selling yourself so go for it.  If you have that very common and huge stumbling block of that little voice in your head saying you are bragging, put the proof in the pudding.  Instead of saying “I’m great at this” and leaving it at that – which is a bragging type perspective; tell them what you do, how you do it and the value received.

When you simply describe what and how you do with the benefit included you are no longer bragging, you are explaining.  This is also demonstrating.  Therefore it sounds confident, not cocky, and you can relax because you are simply telling the story of what you do and how.  It helps shut that little voice in your head up. You are describing and demonstrating not bragging and stating.

You have the goods to go after this position, now it is your job to prove it to the reader.  Think about what is important to them, demonstrate it by describing what you do and the value it provides others and you are well on your way to that conversation about when can you start.

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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 – CareerPolish.com – 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 ★

7 Insights To Help You Relate To The Readers Of Your Resume

looking over a stack of paper

I am a very curious person.  As a child one of my favorite words was “why?” My father had a tremendous amount of patience as he would explain things to me.  If we were building something it was never a matter of ‘do x then y’.  I had to know why we did x then y, what happens if we did z first.  I want to know the causes, effects and possibilities.

My father taught me if you understand why you are doing something you can do it better. Apparently, I really took this to heart, apologies to all who know me.

I also incorporate this in my teaching style.  I like to explain the whys of what I do so my audience better understands and can adapt their actions for greater personal success.  I also incorporate it in my articles.  When writing about writing resumes I try to explain why you want to use value-driven demonstrative bullet points rather than duty statements and other points.

For your resume there is another why that is an important factor: how the person reading it reads it. How they approach it and read it is another why on how you write your resume.

So just for a few minutes, let’s take you out of your resume process and think about the people who are on the other side of that black-hole void of submission.

Caveat: to recruiters and human resource professionals, please know I mean no disrespect in the following.  I am simply explaining in a manner which I believe would be most understood by the greatest amount of people.  I am going to use examples and thoughts that I believe most people can identify with.  I really am on your side, even if I do not sound like it.  I do not envy your job.

It is not an exaggeration to say that one open position can generate easily 300+ resumes submitted.  Think about that – how would you like to review over 300 of pretty much the same thing for one position?  How about if you were trying to fill more than one position?

They do not have a lot of time and that is going to impact how they do a cursory review. This is why it is important to write towards how they are going to read and understand your resume.

1. Scanning like a ninja

With so many resumes to review, they have to adapt a system that allows them to quickly surmise if you fit the first cut.  I correlate this to a teenager’s mentality.  I had a house full of teenagers as my son was growing up so this I am very familiar with – and survived. This mindset looks something like this:

  1. If it looks hard to read, I don’t want to read it so I will not give it a lot of attention
  2. Just tell me what you want me to know, don’t make me work for it
  3. If you leave out information, I will fill it in in a snarky way
  4. If you don’t tell me I am not going to ask
  5. I will take it as it is written – not assume more
  6. I will only believe half of what you say

Do you blame them?  That is a lot of reading they have to do – on top of the rest of their job.  As far as the teenage mentality – think about if you have/had a teenager and you tell them to clean their room.  In my house what I said and what the interpreted request was were two different things.  I had to spell it out, in detail and assume nothing.  Do not leave anything to chance.

2. What do you want?

Some companies post multiple positions simultaneously.  It is not the recruiter or HR person’s job to determine which job you want or what is best for you.  You should know this and convey it so they can start evaluating you for that role immediately.

If you do not tell them, they are not going to take the time to help you figure out your career path.  Next resume.

3. Did you read the qualifications or even know what we do?

Listing the position that you are applying for as a title to your resume is not enough to convey an exact match.  You have to demonstrate that you have the qualities to succeed.  In other words – talk the talk and walk the walk.  Incorporate key words, phrases and industry important facts/successes into your bullet points in a meaningful way that demonstrates your expertise.

4. Everyone’s successful at managing

They are already facing a daunting task of getting through 300 resumes, do not put them to sleep.  Using vague phrases like “successful at managing” “oversees department” “X years of experience” tells them nothing of value.

HOW do you manage or oversee?  That is what will set you apart.  Years of experience is good, however, it is not the most important quality.  Just because someone has done a task for 10 years does not mean they are good at it.  What if they have been doing it wrong all those years?  WHY is the length of experience a benefit or give you an edge?

5. Sure you did

Listing that you were number two in sales last year is not really helping your game.  If they read that one or two thoughts could immediately pop into their head:

“What, out of three?” / “Did someone give you a book of business?”

That is the snarky teenager filling in the blank. Tell them HOW you achieved those goals and further define them to show their importance.  If you were number two out of four, maybe not such a great thing; however, if you were number two out of hundreds, well then, that is something.  Of course, if they really want to get snarky, they could ask “why not number one?”

6. Why do I even care?

Everything on your resume should support and further your value.  There should be no fluff that does not serve a purpose.  If you have a bullet point that states that you compile and distribute reports their first response could very well be, “why do I care?”

Determine the value of everything you do and convey it supporting yourself as the ideal candidate for the job.  Otherwise, what is it doing on your resume?

7. You expect me to believe that?

Don’t you even dare try to lie on your resume. It is unethical and it will be exposed.  You will lose all credibility and a job.  These poor people read hundreds of resumes, their bs meter is finely tuned.  If you compose an executive summary and list of expertise that rivals a CEO yet have just begun your career journey as an assistant to the deputy’s assistant junior team member – it will not add up.  You may try to say, well, it is just a little stretch.  Nope, it is a lie.

You have a story to tell – yours – and there is a lot of information to convey.  It is a daunting task trying to convey all that value in an impactful way in two pages or less. Yet writing your resume is not all about you.  You must consider the reader in your writing style to make sure your message is seen, read and understood.

Keep the above thoughts in mind and do a review of your own resume from this perspective.  It will make you improve your branding, communication and the chances of getting past the first round review.

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

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

Military & Law Enforcement – Why People Do Not Get You Or Your Resume

military law enforcement

The strength of an organization lies in building a sense of shared vision, communication and purpose.  This is a fundamental principle for organizations of any size, industry or purpose.  Some organizations are better at doing this than others; and some set the bar.

The military and law enforcement are two areas that set the bar.  They have their own language and culture.  I know this on a professional and personal level.  My boyfriend has nearly 30 years in the military.  There are times during a conversation that I look at him and say, “Hey, Chief, can you translate that for me?”

I am getting better; the thought process in subtracting 12 when given a time is shortening and I no longer think of pots and pans when “cover” is mentioned.

My communication and coaching style is direct and relatable so I will explain the way I do to my clients: you scare the heck out of people.

Not for what you did or how you did it – it is how you talk. You have to admit, it is a weird language. Their fear is admitting they have no idea what you are talking about.

It is great to be face to face with someone and gently tell them that you have no idea what they are saying when they lapse into “military/law enforcement” speak; however, you do not have that luxury with your resume.

I have worked with all levels of military and law enforcement and it is the common denominator in being stalled in moving forward with a transition: miscommunication.

You are not saying anything wrong, you are just speaking in a foreign language.

When I interview my clients to create their branding, we talk about their background.  However, I ask them to explain it to me as though I know nothing about the military or law enforcement.  What is a battalion? How many people does that include? What is administrative control? I ask them to break it down as though it was a company and what would be the equivalent in that context.

That is the key to communication – explaining your value in a way that your audience understands. 

If I cannot relate to you then I cannot comprehend your value or importance in solving my challenges or problems.

It is your job to tell your story in their language.  Learn the language of the organization or industry you are targeting. Find the similarities.

For example, maneuver may translate to initiative or project or the similarity may be project management.  How does a project manager oversee a project?  What is their responsibilities, accountabilities and authorities?  How does that parallel with what you did?

Training and leadership are two important elements that almost every client possesses from their military / law enforcement experience.  What is the importance of the training – think of your audience – how did you perform or receive training, how did it improve your abilities and contributions?

Throughout your career you may have been promoted into positions that do not translate into the business world.  I do not see a lot of ‘lieutenant’ or ‘major’ in corporate job titles.  Tell us the equivalent of those positions and – just as important – why you were promoted.

Start from the most basic level – explain what you did as you were explaining it to a six year old.  Extreme?  Perhaps, but it gives you a baseline to force yourself to use language that is very simple and clear.  From there you can begin to develop your story and value based on common themes, concepts, language and value.

I have found military and law enforcement are comfortable with steps, given that, here are some steps to help transition your resume from overlooked to attention getting:

  • Identify – Determine the civilian position for which your military or law enforcement background translates
  • Research – Rind job postings and sample resumes of this / these position(s)
  • Compartmentalize – Break down the position into categories of skills, experience, training, education etc.
  • Compare – Find the similarities between the breakdown and your background
  • Translate – Identify key words and phrases and understand what they are communicating, substitute these within your narrative
  • Rewrite – Restructure your narrative into value driven, impactful statements that speak to your audience’s needs, requirements and expectations.
  • Ask – If you are not sure how something would translate, ask for help. Reach out to someone in your network that is in that position and have a conversation.  Networks are there to help you.

Members of our military and law enforcement have a tremendous amount of value, so much more than most people realize.  Stop hiding it from us.  Tell us in a way that we can understand and doors will begin to open for you to transition successfully.

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

Resumes: One Page or Two – and Why They Fail Based on Length Alone

resume snapshot

Although job searching stinks, you know what is worse – writing your own resume.

It starts innocently enough by going online to get updated on the latest do’s and don’t’s; but then it becomes an avalanche of contradictory information.

For everything every piece of advice that you read, you find at least one source telling you what you just read is wrong and you should do something completely different.

It can be so overwhelming that after reading all the expert opinions and suggestions you are ready to suck it up and get the worst job possible – or stay in a horrible situation – in order to avoid having to write your resume.

Of all the questions I get asked as a Professional Resume Writer, there is one that outweighs them all: one page or two?

There seems to be staunch camps out there whether your resume should be one page or two pages. Each is very firm in their opinions and quite adamant about supporting their cause.

After years of writing, researching and talking to the people that it matters to the most – hiring managers and human resource professionals, I have an answer for those who struggle with this question, with a wrinkle:

It doesn’t matter.

Let me take that back, it does matter, but only to the person reading your resume – so you have a 50/50 shot of being right.

Here’s the wrinkle: there are three things that are more important than length of resume to those that matter:

1. What are you applying for?

2. How do you qualify?

3. Can I find the information easily?

 

If you hit those three questions, the length of the resume will not matter. If it is two pages and you have a one page preference reader, they will continue to read because you are providing the information most important to them.

If you have a two page preference reader, they will be satisfied with one page as long as you meet these criteria.

On the other hand if you need a two page and force it onto one because that is “what everyone had told you” you are short-changing yourself and eliminating a fair amount of value from your resume.

Just as if you have enough for a solid one page and try to draw it out into a two page you run the risk of putting too much fluff and distraction into your resume thereby diluting your quality and value.

Let’s take a look at writing your resume from the perspective of these three questions, rather than length, for a more impactful resume.

It is simple enough to answer ‘what are you looking for’ if it is a lateral move for which you have experience and the title is clearly given. You can incorporate the title as either a header or in your opening statement. You can then use key words as ‘Areas of Proficiencies’ and continue to use them in your demonstrative bullet points throughout your resume.

This sounds easy enough; however, what if it is not so cut and dried?

For example, what if you do not always have the luxury of knowing the title?

Some opportunities are not nicely laid out to tell you the exact title. You may be submitting a resume to someone because they asked if you have one they could “take a look at”.

Then what?

This is when a value-based, demonstrative resume is critical.

Having a selling document that emphasizes not only your skills, but how you use them and the value they provide to your audience allows the reader to see demonstrated value.

Simply listing your job duties does not tell the reader what you did, it tells them what you were hired to do; which does not mean you did it or did it well.

Prove it to them. What did you do, how did you do it, whom did you work with, how did you work with them and how did it provide value and to whom? You may not answer all these questions in every bullet point; however, getting the gist of this allows you to demonstrate your value.

They are not going to believe you just because you said so, you have to prove it. Give these guys a break, huh? They read 300+ resumes for one position opening and to be fair, there is a lot of fluffing going on in resumes. They have to cut through the fluff in a very short period of time. Demonstrating cuts through fluff, it proves your value and you are elevated in the stack.

If the desired job title is the next step in your career progression and you do not have a history supporting using this title on your resume, not only do you want to leverage value-based, demonstrative writing; but you also want to write towards the title.

You may read through the desired qualifications and realize you have not done some of these tasks before, do not freak out. Take a moment to peel back the onion a bit. What skills does it take to perform those tasks? Have you done them? Then write demonstrative statements emphasizing those skills.

When I was recruiting I did not always look for people with an exact career match. The fact of the matter is I did not want to retrain them. One of the worst things I heard was, “That’s not how we did it at XYZ”.  I looked for the skills required to perform the tasks, I could teach widgets, systems and processes.

As a very basic example to grasp the concept, let’s say the peeling back the layers of what is required for the next step and you deduce that it requires leadership, organization and good communication skills. You have held supportive roles in the past, not full leadership roles, so how do you write toward the position?

Demonstrate your skills, abilities and value from the perspective of leadership, organization and good communication skills. Describing how you do what you do using these words and concepts.

“Demonstrated leadership in taking ownership of X part of Y project” – leadership.
“Communicated clearly with all stakeholders ensuring engagement and alignment with project expectations.” – communication
“Meticulously organized timelines for group maintaining continual communication to meet demanding deadlines.” – organization and communication

This allows the reader to see this as a natural progression for you and a good fit for the organization.

It also answers how you are qualified for the position.

It also is easy to read and understand.

This is the last important factor: is it easy to find. This applies not only to visual but verbiage.

The layout is important, there will be a human being reading this. Fonts that are too small hurt the eyes and looks like you are trying too hard to squeeze everything on one page. Distracting colors, graphs and changes in fonts can be, well, distracting and take away from your value.

For the visual, make it easy for a real person to read. Leverage white space, bold, italics, spacing, borders and the like to add interest, not to overwhelm. If you need examples of visual styles, go to Google, type in “Resume Sample” and click on “Images”.

Do not read all those resumes for goodness sakes! Just glance over them until you eye is drawn to one style. Each of those can be reproduced in Word. Find what you like and emulate it for your resume.

As far as verbiage, use words and phrases that aligns you to the position and/or industry. If you are experienced in a field, then it would be a natural assumption that you understand the acronyms and how to use them. Spell them out first for ATS systems and others doing a pre-screening. Using key words and phrases correctly demonstrates knowledge, you are talking the talk. Demonstration is walking the walk.

Your bullet points get more attention and understanding when then are true bullet points, not paragraphs. If you have more than two sentences in a bullet point, you have more than one value within that statement and should be broken up.

Your resume is your canvas to paint your picture the way you want them to understand it. Use words as your paint to create the image you want. Some paintings are better with less colors, some could use a bit of color here and there.

When you write your resume, focus on the content first. If you have enough to demonstrate value for two pages, then use two pages – as long as you answer their most important questions.

If you have what they are looking for, they will get over the one page or two issue and focus more on when they can have you come in to talk about the position.

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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 – CareerPolish.com – to find out more about Career Polish how we can help you.

Friends Don’t Let Friends Critique Their Resumes

friends fightingIf you have asked a friend to ‘take a look’ at your resume, it stinks.  You know it does, they know it does and yet they are not going to tell you.

 Why?

Friends are too nice to say that.  Friends are supposed to be supportive and being supportive means telling you ‘it sounds great’ when it really does not.  Dollars to donuts, they cannot tell you what you do immediately after reading your resume, but – it sounds great.

They might suggest some small grammar or comma change because then they can demonstrate that they read it and they get to remain in safe zone.  Safe zone consists of staying away from anything that could question your abilities or skills.

Safe zone is safe for a reason. Friends know that there is the possibility – just the slightest of possibilities – you might get mad or defensive if there is any suggestion or implication of questioning your abilities.

Then there is this possible scenario: they suggest something, you make the change in your resume, you do not immediately hear back after you submit it for the first time, then blamed them. “Well, I did what you told me and it didn’t work!”

Stop asking your friends to help you with your resume, it is a no win situation for them and frustrating for you.

Because you feel the need to ask someone to look at your resume then something inside of you is telling you that it is not quite right. That inner voice is normally correct, but if you cannot ask your friends to read your resume to help you, how do you make it better?

Stop reading your resume as the author and read it as a hiring manager.

Now is the time to bring in the expert. Who knows what you did better than you?  No one. You are the expert in what value you have to contribute.  Leverage this in using the following steps to analyze your own resume and make it shine:

Research

Before you read your resume, determine the job and scope of responsibilities.  What is a hiring manager looking for in the position that you seek?

If you are unsure of what the job entails or what is required, then you need to spend a lot of time on this step. To be frank, how can you write to a position if you do not know it?

Detail

Write out the specifics of the position, scope, responsibilities, expectations and wish list of desired attributes.  Having this list will make it much easier to critique your resume in the following step.

Scoring Sheet

Create a scoring sheet for your resume before you review it.  The detail of the desired position is one aspect.  Other qualifications it should have is readability, which includes the visual elements of your resume; impressions and proof.

Now it is time to read the resume.  Think like a hiring manager:  you have 300 resumes to review for this position and your time is valuable.  You are not going to waste your time digging for information; if the candidate does not bring it, you are tossing it.

Just to show you are serious, get a red pen out to mark that puppy up.  If there are inconsistencies –red mark; if there are missing elements – red question mark; hold nothing back, the red pen is merciless.

Ten Second Test

Before you read into detail, give your resume – or rather the resume of the prospective candidate in front of you – the ten second test.  Glance briefly at it to see if it engages you enough to want to read on in a passing glance of the top quarter of the page.  Is it visually attractive or does the text look small, cramped and crowded making it harder to read?  This is the visual aspect of the readability.

Write down your initial impressions of this resume on your scoring sheet.

Break It Down

Now take each section one at a time and go into detail. Get your list that you created for the desired position and have it right next to the resume.  As you review each section, make a check mark next to the desirable qualities when mentioned in the resume.

Read the opening of the resume, what is your impression?  Is that person telling you what they want in a position or what they can do for you in the position?  What strengths do they bring to the company, team, or position? Do they sound proactive using strong action words or reactive and just showing up to the job at hand?

Experience Is More Than Showing Up

Here is where the proof is in the pudding.  Reading through their experience, is it a demonstration of value add or a list of job duties?

Using job duties as bullet points tells the reader what you were hired to do, not what you did.  No one cares what you were hired to do; they want to know how you contributed in a valuable way.

Are the bullet points convincing you of the candidate’s expertise or skills?  Are they demonstrating the value they bring to an organization by describing who they worked with, how they worked with them, what they did and how it was of value?

This is the proof section.  The scoring sheet should have the requirements, now the experience section should prove the candidate has them and utilizes them to provide value to an organization, team, staff and/or clients.

Revise

Now that you have written notes analyzing your resume, you can revise it to meet the expectations of a hiring manager.  When you begin to rewrite your resume, keep it front and center in your mind that you are writing not for you – but for them.

It is your job to tell them how you meet or exceed the requirements or expectations; how you bring value to their organization; how you are the solution to their problem; how you are the best candidate among the 300 resumes.

You know what you do, how you do it and how it brings value.  That is why it is best for you to identify where it is missing in your resume then bring it out; this is not a job for your friends.

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As the Founder and Principle of Career Polish, Inc., a national career coaching and practice firm, I am a Brand Strategist, Professional Resume Writer and Career Coach. I work with individual clients, sales teams, leadership and companies 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.

In other words: I help people get from where they are in their jobs to where they want to be in their careers.

Click here – CareerPolish.com – to find out more about Career Polish and what we can do to help you.

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

Resumes: How to Demonstrate Remarkable Leadership

leader standingAs a Professional Resume Writer, I know how to make things sound good on paper. More importantly, I know that all too often value is not represented on a resume.

All too often resumes are a compilation of duties, a rehash of a job description. This only tells the reader what you were hired to do, not what you did. Just because you listed a duty on your resume does not mean you did it well.

Leadership is a combination of competency, adaptability, character, authenticity and accountability. Demonstrating these on your resume opens the door for conversations. The key is demonstration rather than simply stating. Here are some items to consider when writing your resume to highlight each area:

Authenticity

A prepared thirty second answer to a question can easily portray authenticity, but true authenticity is demonstrated as a constant throughout their career, even during down periods or setbacks. Can you demonstrate growth, success or value during the periods of your career that were off your path?

Are you authentic to your teams? Do you hire people smarter or better than you, do you encourage and expect teams to grow in their positions, do you expect your teams to set and achieve personal and professional goals important to them even at the risk of losing them on your team?

Accountability

The greatest leaders I have worked with and interviewed all are horrible about talking about themselves because they see the truest and most important value in the people they lead. Do you take ownership of the failures and give praise for the successes? Do you support, encourage and have the backs of your team?

Character

How do you demonstrate support of your leadership and teams? Do you assume ownership of propelling your team as a whole and each individual? Do you have consistent expectations of yourself, your teams and your leadership? Do you go above and beyond without being asked or need for recognition?

Adaptability

The only constant is change. How do you adapt to change, approach it, leverage it and lead people through it? How inclusive is your team – do you solicit feedback, do you listen and adapt based on input? Do you surround yourself with people better than yourself to raise your abilities, insight and performance to react in the best interest of the team, company and clients?

Competency

This is an obvious – can you do the job. Beyond having the required experiences and skills, have you grown in your capabilities? How do you approach tasks or projects, what skills do you utilize to optimize changes, setbacks and expectations? How have you made improvements and accomplished your successes? How do you set goals, kept teams accountable and delivered at or beyond expectations?

These qualities are not defined in a single, well penned bullet point. They are qualities that are demonstrated through actions consistently throughout your career and each position.

Creating a mindset of demonstration is vital in conveying value rather than duty. When evaluating your career, think about what you did, how you did it, what skills were used, who did you work with, how did you work with them, who received value from you doing what you do and what impact that value made.

Translating answers to the above questions will produce a solid resume of demonstrative statements proving you are a remarkable leader rather than a page of empty proclamations.

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I hope you enjoyed this article and it provided value for you. If so, please click on the follow button so I may continue to share valuable content with you or the share buttons to share with your network.

I help people identify and set a path to achieve their career goals by using the V Formula:

Your Value + Your Voice = Visibility

Visibility is the leverage to move in, move up or move on in your career; expand your book of business or territory, grow your company and strengthen your team.

–Lisa

Lisa K. McDonald, Owner and Principal of Career Polish, Inc. is a favorite speaker and seminar facilitator at colleges, professional organizations and companies around the US speaking to leadership, sales and athletic teams; transitioning/downsized employees and networking groups about personal branding, networking, creating executive presence and achieving career movement success. To find out more, visit Career Polish, Inc.

Resumes: Tell Me Your Story, Don’t Sell Me a Line

sales guyI am not a big fan of being sold anything. When it starts to happen, my special BS radar is activated quite quickly. I thank my son for this radar, he helped me fine tune it as a wild teenager. He was a master BS-er.

I can sense pretty quickly when it goes from showing me the value of something and trying to convince me or get me to buy into something. When I was looking at vacuum cleaners, it was sounding off like a siren. The sales person was trying to tell me I needed the fancy-smancy cleaner that had all these bells and whistles for all types of floors.

I have two types of floors: dirty and hairy. I have three dogs. They either shed or bring in the great outdoors. I need a vacuum cleaner that picks up dirt and hair. My floors are hardwood and low pile carpet. Nothing fancy.

But there he was, insisting on fancy-smancy that could navigate from hardwood to carpet in an instant. I don’t need that. My transition is a flight of stairs. I found our conversation sounded a lot like this:

“But it has this great feature” – Sales Guy
“But I don’t need that” – me
“But you might” – Sales Guy
“But I don’t” – me
“But you might in the future” – Sales Guy
“But I don’t now” – me
“But wouldn’t it be nice to have for when you do need it?” – Sales Guy
“No. It would be nice to have three dogs that don’t shed” – me
“Oh, we have another fancy-smancy that has a shedding attachment” – Sales Guy

And so on. I think he made that last part up.

I went to another store and told that Sales Guy about my floors and dogs. He said, “Then all you need is this one, it is on the low end and will do the job for you just fine. Here’s what it does….” Sold!

He told me, not sold me.

The same principle applies for your resume. When people read your resume, their BS meter is up and running and on high alert. Why? Because they have read too many sellers rather than stories, too much fluff and not enough substance.

One of the most common statements I hear when talking to people about their resume is that they do not know how to convey or communicate their value. I will ask them to tell me about a piece of their history and they tell me a story. Then I tell them to use what they just told me.

When you tell your story, including what you did, how you did it, who it helped and how it helped them – that is telling your value based narrative. When you use job description bullet points and unanswered claims – that is selling a story. It does not even sound like you.

The key to a good resume story is including three parts: demonstration, value and you.

Demonstration

Rather than use job description bullet points that tell the reader what you were hired to do, write statements that actually tell what you did. No one cares what you were hired to do, they care about what you did and the value it provided. What did you do and how did you do it?

Value

Not everything is measurable in numbers. Value is added in many ways from creating a more efficient system, training others for them to utilize new technology more quickly, opening communication between departments for collaboration – these are just a few value adds that are not measurable. The value comes in who received benefit from what you did and what the benefit was that they received.

You

Does your resume sound like you? It should. Just like when you read a book and form an image of the characters based on the words provided, people reading your resume are forming an image of you based on your words. When the resume image and the phone/in person image match this gives them greater confidence to believe what you have said; it gives you credibility. When they do not match, the reader wonders which one you are, and are they going to hire the wrong one.

If you are a behind the scenes kind of guy, do not use outgoing words like dynamic, innovative, driven etc. Use words that are professional and convey your energy and work style. If you are a go-getter kind of gal, then use words that reflect that persona.

Story Telling

One last tidbit on how to write your story – stop trying to write it in resume language! No one talks like that and it is not something that comes naturally for most people. Trying to write your resume each round in resume language is going to stress you out. Stop it.

Instead, have a conversation with yourself and write it out. Get on your computer or laptop or whatever you can type or write the most quickly on and take one piece at a time. Start small to get the ball rolling. Take a bullet point.

● Created workflow diagrams

This on its own screams “so what” – why does the reader care that you created these? It is your job as a storyteller to tell them the importance of this skill and more importantly what value it brings to them.

Under this bullet point start asking yourself some questions to get the ball rolling:

  • What does this mean?
  • Who do I create them for?
  • Why do I create them?
  • Who uses them?
  • What value does it provide for them?
  • How do they utilize them?
  • What is the result of them using the diagrams that I create?

Then type out your answers as though you were talking to a real person, not in resume language. Your answer does not have to be complete sentences or thoughts. Just start typing. Get the feel for it. The more you type the more you will begin to remember and also take yourself out of the forest for the trees syndrome. It can be as long as it takes to type it out, there are no rules here.

Once you get it all down then you can start bringing it together. Maybe you have two paragraphs on one little bullet. Fabulous! Take a look at it and see where it is taking you. If the value is that you help a department become more efficient, than that is the main point, not the creation of workflow diagrams – that is the true value and one that a prospective employer is going to care about because it is something you can do for them.

From there you can start fine tuning and condensing the thoughts into a solid, single bullet point. You may find that one single bullet point will lead to others. For example, you might find that in describing this bullet point you go off on a tangent about collaborating with various departments to analyze their productivity and optimization – this could lead to a whole new value statement.

Do not limit yourself to the confines of your duty based bullet points. You have more to offer than what you were hired to do. Your job with your resume is to convey your value, not tell them what you were hired to do. This can be done by taking your time, exploring what you did, how you did it, who you worked with and how you provided benefit. Once you open the door on one bullet, you will find a whole world of value that you have been hiding – and one that is worth reading.

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