New Job on Your Resolutions? Start with the Resume ~ 6 Things to Do to Update Your Resume, Just in Case

resume snapshotI love January. I love the excitement of people fully engaged and committed to their New Year’s Resolutions. I love the excitement of the prevailing attitude of: “New year, new start, new goals, new me!”

Many resolution lists include something about a job and falls within one of the three general categories of job seekers:

1. I want a lateral or upward move in my career
2. I want to transition into a new industry
3. I am content where I am, I just want to be prepared

Personally, I think you should always be prepared – just in case.

I cannot tell you the number of people that I have had reach out to me and say, “I just got contacted by someone for an amazing opportunity, I wasn’t even looking! Can you prepare my resume so I can get it over to them tomorrow? Oh yeah, and I haven’t done a resume or updated mine in over 10 years – is that a problem?”

Slight problem.

I want to take a look at each category individually. Today is all about updating your resume, just in case; and the six things to help you get your resume in shape.

Remember, your resume is your brag book, your cheerleader and your guide – if you allow it to be. All you have to do is give it the information and it will steer you in the right direction. It can only work for you if you work on it.

1. Revamp or Create an Opening

Right under your letterhead you should have an opening paragraph answering an employer’s most important question: “What can you do for me?” How has this changed since your last revamp? Does it still represent and sound like you?

If you have an objective statement detailing what you are looking for recreate this from the employer’s perspective.  Why do they want to talk to you rather than hundreds of other candidates?  What do you bring to the table?  What are your strengths, how have you helped other organizations, teams or clients?  What separates you from the competition?

2. Perform a Year in Review

Or longer if it has been over a year since you last updated your resume. Look back at the last year and answer the following questions:

  • What did I improve?
  • What did I learn?
  • How did I contribute?
  • What changed in my role?

Many times you fail to update your resume since landing your current job. If you have absolutely nothing about your current position, start with your job description as a basis. Do not copy it into your resume because odds are what you were hired to do and what you actually vary.

3. Update Credentials and Expertise

Did you earn any certifications over the past year or taken any specialized classes? Are there any new key words that you can add to your list of areas of expertise or proficiencies?

4. Keep a Notebook or Email Yourself

When you sit down to revamp your resume it can become overwhelming quite quickly and you might end up forgetting a lot of details.

Don’t stress yourself out and think you need to update your resume all in one night. Tackle one section at a time.

Often when you are not thinking about your resume something pops into your mind. Maybe a coworker makes a comment about a project you worked or you remember an accomplishment. When that happens, make an immediate note in your notebook or email it to your home email.

I have seen this somewhere and I love it: “the biggest lie I tell myself is that I will remember this later.”

If you get kudos at work, write them out or print them and keep them in a file at home or forward them to your home email. Kudos can be incorporated into your resume as: “known for…”, “recognized for…” etc.

Caveat – please only email your personal email if it is not against any corporate, privacy policies or serve as a red flag. I worked in an industry where every email – incoming and outgoing – was reviewed by compliance. This would not be a situation that I would feel comfortable emailing these things to my home email. In this case, I would text myself or create a memo folder in my phone’s notes section.

This is another reason I like good old fashioned notebooks.

5. Do a Little Research

Take some time to research similar or desired positions. Look at job descriptions, job postings and LinkedIn profiles. Are there any phrases, key words or ideas that align more with what you want to say or represent you in your resume? Incorporate those into your resume.

6. Draw the Line

A general rule of thumb is ten years for your career history. Of course, there are exceptions, but generally, it is acceptable to detail the last 10 years of experience. Work history prior to that time can be included as line items without detailed explanations.

Take a look at your resume; can you condense some of your 10+ year past to make more room to expand upon your most recent accomplishments and value?

Utilizing these six tips can help get your resume into a much more ready state, just in case you get the call for that unexpected but very welcome opportunity.

Coming next: updating your resume for transition.

5 Rules of Organization to Apply to Your Resume for Career Progression or Transition

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

I guess I am hoping one day all those shows, videos, books, articles and tidbits will magically sink in and make me organized.

I have a bit of dual personality when it comes to organization.  My work is very organized, my environment, well, that is a different story.  Let’s just say it is a work in progress.

Looking at my office this morning I realize it is time for an organization intervention.  I started thinking about the general rules of organization.  Although it is definitely needed, it will not happen today; I have resumes to write and that is my priority.

As I began writing, my mind was still lingering on the organization aspect and that is when the connection hit me:  if you use the rules of organization to organize your resume you can organize your job search, career growth and business success.

Your resume is the foundation of your job search.  It drives everything from your LinkedIn profile, interviewing and networking.

A good business bio does the same thing for your business in defining your LinkedIn profile, networking, customer communications and growth.  From here on out I will use the word resume, but keep in mind this applies to business owners and their own communication pieces.

5 General Rules of Organizing:

1. Purge

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


For the position you seek or the career you desire you must first understand what is important in that role.  What are the skills, value and qualifications that are important for your success and that are valued by the organization?  This is your 20% focus for 80% of your resume.

2. Decide

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


For each statement, sentence, area of expertise item and bullet point ask, “Do I love it? Do I use it?”  The love it part is actually does it love me?  Does this item support you in demonstrating yourself as the best candidate?  Does it speak to what is important to the position or company?  If you answer no then get rid of it.

3. Remove

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


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

4. Use a System

Group like items, make it easy to see and find what you are looking for  – i.e. in the garage or shed keep all the gardening tools together and in partnership with what you use together.  Pots, trowels, potting mix etc. Labeling shelving and boxes make for quicker and easier identification.


Your system is to write toward the job you want rather than giving a cliff notes version of the jobs you have had.  Under each position group like items, make it easy to for the reader to find what they are looking for, possibly use subtitles and emphasize key words for easier identification.

5. Maintain Focus

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


Focus on the overall goal of your next position and let go of the overwhelming desire to emotionally beat yourself up on past mistakes, poor position choices and seemingly unrelated career history.

Write your resume looking forward, not back.  What, in those past positions, helped you in any way for that next job?  What type of skills or lessons were learned and how can you apply them?  There is a thread there; it is your job to find it in order to present it to the reader so they understand.

Once you have taken the time to organize your resume and get rid of all that unwanted clutter then take a break.  Come back to it with a relaxed attitude.  What you will now see is a framework that fully supports you.  Now, you can start tweaking it and putting in the final touches that bring it all together.

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


Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Brand Strategist & Career Coach

Certified Professional Resume Writer



Apply Online Dating to Job Searching

checklistLooking for a job is very much like dating. Putting your best foot forward, dressing to impress, showcasing your best qualities and hoping to be selected for a long term commitment. I see correlations in every step of the process from cover letters, resumes, networking, interviewing, negotiations and even selecting criteria.

When you think about your ideal job and sit down to make a list of what you want, it is similar to creating an online dating profile. You list out your must have’s and would like to have’s. But you are missing something, the something that is more natural in creating an online profile: listing your not’s.

The things you do not want.

Just to be clear – I have nothing against online dating. I know many people who have found friendships and partnerships. I am simply using the experience of a good friend who recently ventured into the online dating world after a recent divorce.

There are all sorts of profiles talking about what they want in terms of fun, adventure, easy-going personalities, romantic getaways, long walks on the beach holding hands, loving puppies, rainbows and all things that make us warm and fuzzy inside. But it is not enough.

To be selected as a potential date, candidates must meet both set of criteria: the wants and the not’s. Some people were more flexible in their wants as long as you did not possess the any of the qualities on the not list.

As a side note, in reading me prospective date profiles, one thing became very clear: without fail almost every single male profile we reviewed stated they did not want to talk to, meet or date anyone with drama.

Isn’t that kind of a given? Are there women that put “love drama” on their profile? Are we incorrect in our thought that the people that protest the drama the most are the ones who are most involved in it? We wondered what would happen if you listed that you loved drama, what kind of response you would get. If you are going to start putting the things that seem, at least to us, obvious, why not go ahead and list more than just drama? Why stop at just drama? Who defines it, anyway? And when did it become a tag line? Just wondering. Ok, back to the point of this blog.

When putting together criteria for that next position, I suggest approaching it from the standpoint of the online dating profile, just a bit more so: make your not list your primary list.

This allows you to be more flexible and open to different opportunities that cross your path. If the position does not get one check in the not’s list, then consider it. Go out and get to know it over a cup of coffee, see where it might lead.

So maybe you don’t like each other’s choice of music or you love to cook and their idea of fine dining is not using paper plates for the carry out. We all have our quirks, but that shared connection on the not list, that may be much more substantial.

Opportunities are disguised in all sorts of packaging. If we only focus on the pretty bows, we do not allow ourselves to see the gem that lies undiscovered underneath the packaging.


Lisa K McDonald, CPRW

Brand Strategist & Career Coach

Certified Professional Resume Writer

Tell Them You Want It

woman interviewed by twoMonday I was honored to be the guest speaker at a fantastic organization.  We touched on several aspects of job searching including resumes, LinkedIn, interviewing, job fairs and networking. 

There was one point relative to interviewing that I brought up that I think is worthy of its own mention in a blog.  You have to tell them you want the job.

This I have heard from hiring managers, human resource professionals and recruiters: the interviewer cannot read your mind.

Think of it from their perspective.  Their job is to screen you as a qualified candidate.  If they decide that you are a good fit, their other job is to sell you on the position and company.  The interview goes very well, it feels like a good match this could be a win-win for both of you. 

Then the candidate simply ends the interview with a “thank you for your time.”

Isn’t that the same as a flat, “I had fun, thanks.” at the end of a date?  No hint of wanting to see you again, no indication of interest.  Just a flat ending to, what you thought, was a great night?

If you do not tell the interviewer that you are still or even more interested in the position, how are they going to know?  Again, they cannot read your mind! 

Just because you showed up for the interview does not mean you still want the job.  Maybe you heard something in the interview that made you change your mind.  How are they to know?

It may sound simple, yet it could be the difference between and one and done date and a long term relationship.


Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Brand Strategist & Career Coach

Certified Professional Resume Writer


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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Brand Strategist & Career Coach

Certified Professional Resume Writer






Bless the Boys of Summer – They can Teach Us a Thing or Two About Job Searching, Careers and Life

ImageI love baseball.  More specifically, I love watching baseball in person.  It is something about the sound of the ball hitting the glove, coming off a bat, the sight of a good steal, the smell of hotdogs, summer time, beer and cotton candy. 


Then there is the comradely of the fans.  I don’t care what team you are rooting for there is a fan base there and that team becomes your boys.


As a kid we used to go to the old stadium on 16th street to watch our Indianapolis Indians when they were the farm team for the big red machine.  Now, as an adult I love going to Victory Field.  Every year I would take my son for a full day planned around going to a day game. 


And then there is Wrigley.  And Bull Durham is one of my favorite movies…but I digress.


My dad got me into baseball.  He also introduced me to fishing, but that just never took like baseball did. He introduced me to the Cubs.  I’ve been a fan since The Penguin was on Third, Jody Davis was behind the plate, Leon Durham was in outfield and Ryan Sandburg was a youngster at Short.


 My son played a lot of baseball growing up and we did a lot of traveling for his games.  A lot of traveling.


We would start out the season dressed in layers bringing thermoses full of hot chocolate and having hand warmers.  We would end the season with cool water spray fans, ice packs, sun screen and a loss of a percentage of body weight due to sweating it off just sitting there watching the game.


Through it all, the boys of summer persevere.  Hot or cold, they play and play hard.  The game does not change.  The rules are the same, the skills needed are the same, the comradely is the same; but the environment changes drastically.


Baseball has some great lessons and rules.  It teaches sacrifice and the value of failing.


You can literally fail at batting and lead the league.  You sacrifice a single for a run or to advance a teammate.


Baseball is a great example and giver of lessons for those looking to advance, change or obtain a career.


Sacrifice is not a four letter word.  Most people think of sacrifice as giving something up period.  That is true to a degree.  You are giving up something for the benefit of something greater.  Remember the sacrifice a single for a run?


You may take a step backward, but that is the single in the current inning; and the run you allow to come in is a game changer.


You can fail most of the time and lead the league.  Batting averages.  Hit three out of ten times and anywhere else you would be considered a failure in the thirty percentile.  In baseball, you are a rock star.


Preparation is critical, timing is a factor. Two exciting moments in a game is a great steal or a great pick off.  You see that one moment in time when that is happening; but what you don’t see is all the work that went into it before.


Runners know the opposing pitchers and catchers.  They know their wind up, their habits and look for their weaknesses.  It is their advantage and it is mental.  Pitchers and catchers know the runners.  They know their stance and when they like to run.  It is a mental game.  Preparation is crutial.


Then it is a matter of timing.  Once slight moment of hesitation and there is no contest.  Do your homework, know your industry, the job, the skills needed, the qualifications desired and combine that with your strengths.  Be ready with the timing presents itself then explode on it.


Excellence is not a seasonal quality.  Great players keep themselves sharp and continue to try to improve on the offseason.  You might get away with showing up during spring training without putting prior work into it, but the older guys, they are going to make a fool of you fast.  Respect your sport, respect your talent and respect that it can all change in a day.


Management decisions can alter your course.  As a life long Cubbie fan I have two words here: Greg Maddox.  You can be the best and get downsized, traded or let go.  It is a business decision,  it is not personal.  You cannot always control the decisions of management; however, you have full control of your reaction.


It is a game.  To the players, coaches, umpires, staff and crew it is a job.  But it is also a game.  Have fun.  I love to hear each guy’s music they pick when they come up to bat.  Love, love, love it.  It gets them jazzed and the crowd jazzed.  They have fun.  They allow us to have fun. 


Support those that support you.  There will be people in your career that help you along the way.  Remember them, be grateful for them and appreciate them while they are there.  No one wins a game on their own, it is a collaborative effort of everyone bringing out the best in each other.  Make sure you contribute to others as much as they contribute to you.


So for my beloved Cubs and Indianapolis Indians, thank you.  Thank you for allowing us to share your love of the game and for teaching us some valuable lessons. 


While you are working on moving up in your career, changing jobs or looking for a new one, take some time out to go enjoy the great game of baseball.  It may not land you that job, but it will give you a break you need and the opportunity to soak in the bliss that I call baseball.


Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Brand Strategist & Career Coach

Certified Professional Resume Writer


You Call it Paranoia, I Call it Preparedness


I am a huge fan of the show Criminal Minds.  Great show, great cast and great nightmares.  The picture on this blog is my laptop in my office.  You will notice the little smiley face on the top – that is a result of Tobias Hankel. 

There was an episode where the unsub – Tobias – used webcams to choose victims.  Literally watching them through their own webcam without their knowledge.  Kinda creepy.  Given my lack of technical savvy how do I know when I call a help desk there isn’t a Tobias on the other line linking into my webcam?

So I put a smiley face up there.  Take that Tobias! 

Since I am already in the Criminal Mind world, I will just go on to say that I can just see Rossi giving me the look after those last couple statements.  Fans of this show know what I mean, the Rossi look.  The one where after someone says something he gives this look as if to say, “Oooook, you just might be crazy.”

 Crazy – maybe.  Paranoid – maybe.  Aware and prepared – yes.

I like to be prepared.  When my son played sports all through school I had the sports bad.  The contents depended upon the sport and season.  For baseball we had sunscreen, bug bite stuff, granola bars, pencils (I keep the book), water, washcloth in a bag (for dipping in the cooler and place on the back of necks for overheating), sunglasses, gloves, hat and so on.

Someone asked me the other day about cover letters and if they were even necessary.

I have already put it out there according to the Rossi look that I might not be quite right so I will just continue the theme and let it spill that I love cover letters.  Yes, I am a freak, I love cover letters.  I love resumes and networking and LinkedIn – this is why I do what I do. 

Back to point: cover letters.  Yes, they are necessary  They serve a very important purpose: they introduce you to the reader and entice them to want to read your resume.

Sometimes they are read after the resume and sometimes they are not even read at all.  But remember – we are all about being prepared.  I would rather have them and make them great than not have them and need them. 

Way back when before cell phones and all the modern technology we used to do something in the dating world called writing.  We would write “love letters” or “notes”.  These were to entice the object of your affection to gain interest in you and agree to go out with you. Sigh – the good old days.

Today the cover letter is that love letter.  The first date is the resume. 

A cover letter is a wonderful thing because it does not have to follow the constraints of the resume.  You can talk about whatever you want to in the cover letter – anything.  You can mention something from your past that is touched on or not even mentioned in your resume to gain interest or make a point. 

You can spell out directly how you are an exact match to the position.  I have seen cover letters where there are two columns; the first is a list of the job requirements and the second a list of the candidate’s qualifications showing an exact match.  Creative.  Cool.

I had one client who grew up on a farm and in college he was a member of a national championship football team. We used it.  If I remember correctly the sentence went something like, “I understand the value of hard work and being a contributing member of a team having grown up on a farm and as a member of the XYZ college national championship football team…” 

It demonstrated strong qualities that were ingrained in him and also gave a couple unique talking points.

Cover letters can serve as a test, too.  It is expected that there will be incomplete sentences or incorrect sentence structure in a resume.  It is your resume; therefore, it is written from a position of an assumed I.  You do not say I or me in the resume. 

Perfect English and writing style is essential in a cover letter.  The test can be if you proofread your work, as well as your communication skills.  Can you write an effective business communication? 

One of the keys to a good cover letter is to understand your audience and their needs.  Read the position posted and research the company.  Go beyond the home page of their website.  Get a feel for the environment in terms of clients, communication, values, mission and goals.  Get a feel for how they “talk” on the website.  People are drawn to others who are most similar to themselves.  

Stay on task of the task at hand: the job.  Tell them the position for which you are applying, tell them why you are applying and how you qualify.  Then thank them and leave it on a positive note.  Let them know that you look forward to speaking with them and give them your contact information.

Lastly, make sure that your cover letter matches the look and feel of your resume.  The letterhead should match, as should the visual elements of your resume.  

However, I do not recommend using homemade pink stationary as Garcia did. 


Lisa K McDonald, CPRW

Brand Strategist & Career Coach

Certified Professional Resume Writer

So You are a People Person, Great. I am a Dog Person.



I mean, c’mon, what does that really mean?


You love working with all people? Doubt it. 

You communicate well with all people? Doubt it.


When I say I am a dog person, it conveys that I love all dogs.  Not exactly true.  I’m not a fan of little yippy dogs.  I like big dogs, Great Pyrenees is my favorite breed.  Anything under 60 pounds is, in my eyes, a small dog. Two of my three dogs outweigh me. 


The third is a Puggle, who reigns supreme over the other two; and she does not yip.


Saying you are a people person is an empty statement, a space filler and meaningless.  It truly does not describe you but rather conveys that you are a generalist.


Stop making generalizations about yourself.  There is nothing that will tune an audience of 1 or 100 out quicker than making generalizations.


Why?  Because they apply to no one.  Therefore, if it is not important, why listen?


When you are job searching, advancing in your career, engaging new clients or networking the one thing you do not want to happen is people tuning you out.  Game over.


You are not a generality, you are not insignificant; you provide or add value. 


The key is you have to discover how.


There may be many ways in which you do this so start with asking yourself the following questions and writing down your answers:


What do I do?

How do I do it?

Whom do I work with?

What is the benefit they receive from working with me? 


Now, if you were to use all the information you just gathered from the above questions you would have quite the lengthy elevator pitch and end up sounding like a yippy dog after the first minute or two. 


You don’t want to be a yippy dog; so let’s not stop there.


Now is the time to cut it down for impact.  Let me give you a bit of insight about the people you are talking to: we have a short attention span.  Please do not force us to try to politely concentrate for three minutes when we got lost after the first 15 seconds. 


It is painful.


We need to the point, attention-getting statements that peak our interest.  Give me something to hold on to a hook, a morsel.  If you blurt out everything about yourself what motivation do I have to continue the conversation?




I already know everything about you.


And odds are I have misinterpreted something.


Boil it down to the most important value that you bring and how it relates to me.


That is how you get my attention and that is how you get me to ask you a question and engage in conversation.


Yippy dogs keep yipping; big dogs bark less frequency and with more power.  Big dogs get attention, yippy dogs get ignored.


Be your own big dog.  They are awesome.


Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Career Coach & Brand Strategist

Certified Professional Resume Writer

You are an Example to Yourself

When did we start expecting perfection from ourselves?  When did we start believing that mistakes and failures were fatal?  When did we get so darn uptight?  I’m perplexed.


I am a human full of flaws which put together tell the story of me, my growth, my value, my lessons and my life.  I am very fortunate that I had a very supportive environment growing up; my parents were realistic enough to know that they did not create the perfect child in me.  I obliged by proving it several times over.


I was the youngest of three.  My brother was the brain and my sister was the social one.  Then there was me.  I didn’t fit into a category.  This is where my dad was such a major influence on me.  He taught me to use power tools, how to change a tire, how to bait my own hook, the importance of knowing being honest and respectful, as well as above all else, being a girl was not a factor in anything I did.  Not taking anything away from my mom at all.  She served as an example of many of the lessons he taught.


My brother patiently mentored me with my school work, especially in math.  We both loved math, but it came easily to him and I had to learn how to crack its code.  There is a definiteness about math.  He allowed me to make mistakes and never made me feel stupid for doing so, then steered me back on the path of mastery.


I tried to take these lessons with me as an adult, mother and coach.  When my son was younger I made a huge mistake at work.  That night I told him about it because it was important to demonstrate two things: mom isn’t perfect and it isn’t always the mistake but the corrective action that is important.


This week I attended an event where I had the pleasure of hearing Dr. Rob Bell speak.  He teaches mental toughness training for sports, business and life.  Early in his presentation he used an example involving golf.


Let me set the record straight – I am not a golfer.  I was married to a golfer and seemed to only be invited to go when the weather was horrible and his golfing buddies didn’t want to go in that kind of a mess.  The day I chipped in for a birdie was pretty much the end of that.


The point of the story was about a mistake Dr. Rob had made and the ripple effects.  Not being a golfer I didn’t participate in the groan that was heard after he mentioned his mistake, but I was still as engaged.  Why – because he made himself the example without demeaning himself.


By the way, Dr Rob gave a fantastic presentation and I highly recommend you visit his website to learn more about him ( and while you are there be sure to check out his newest book!


Self-depreciation is charming to a point.  Self-slamming is uncomfortable and unnecessary. 


We all make mistakes.  I find we are much easier on others in accepting their mistakes than we are for ourselves. 


Knock it off.


Give yourself a break, will ya?


Next time you screw up, and you will – we are all human, try something a little different.  Tell the story out loud.  Not to yourself in a bashing kind of way.  Instead, as though you were talking to your child, your best friend or your spouse.  How would you tell the story to someone that you either want to serve as an example for or someone that loves you unconditionally?  We tell those that love us our failures because we know they will say it is ok, we will do better. 


Start saying that to yourself.  “It is ok, you will do better.”


What did you learn from this?  How can you improve it right now?  What can you do in the future to make sure it doesn’t happen again?  What other surprise lessons were learned from this?  There are often hidden treasures for us that we just need to open our eyes to see.  Once we discover them it is quite amazing how much we can truly learn from one mistake or failure.


Abraham Lincoln’s mother told her family on her deathbed to be kind to one another.  Yes, be kind to one another and be kind to yourself.


Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Brand Strategist & Career Coach

Certified Professional Resume Writer


You are Not the Only One

I think that people generally want to belong.  We find friends of similar interests and mindsets.  We are drawn to people like ourselves or that have qualities that we respect or identify with.  There is a part of us that does like that alone time, but as a whole, we like to be around others similar to ourselves.


Why is it when something bad happens in our life we naturally assume we are so unique as to be the only person in the world that has either gone through this or understands it?


When we get fired, laid off or displaced we retreat into our own little world thinking we are alone.


There are situations that it may be hard pressed to find someone with the exact same circumstances; however, you are not alone.


So why do we allow ourselves to feel that way?


Fear or embarrassment. 


We don’t want to admit that something bad happened.  Perhaps it will be seen as a poor reflection of ourselves.  I was fired so therefore I must be the worst employee ever.  People will think differently of me, people will not respect me, people won’t respect me.


I wish for one moment that all those going through that thought process would take all that energy they are putting in that isolation into doing something positive.  If I could have wrangled all those negative feelings when I was in that same position and put it into cleaning my house – it would have been spotless, Mr. Clean would be impressed.


It is wasted energy.


First of all, you are not the only one.


No, it is not the most pleasant thing to talk about.  However, if you can take a much less pessimistic view and open up to people then what you might find is you will hear a lot of “been there, done that.”


No one needs to know the gory details of why it happened.  The simple fact is it did.  Don’t elaborate on it.  Just state it and immediately, in that same breath make a statement that you are moving forward.


It will be hard on two fronts.  First, the need to feel that you need to defend yourself.  You don’t.  Just state it plain, simple and quick.  Second, people are damn nosey.  You might get the “what happened?” questions.  This will be difficult to avoid getting sucked in.


It is like when you break up with someone.  I was engaged and then one day, I was no longer engaged.  When people found out more often than not I heard two statements back to back:


“I’m so sorry!”

“What happened?  You guys seemed perfect together.”




Thank you for the support and thank you for wanting to get all the details of which I was having enough of a hard time dealing with.


I got to the point that I started using one of my most prominent attributes: humor.  Ok, let’s be honest, it is me.  I used sarcasm.  I started replying with:


“Thank you”

“Someone forgot to tell us we were perfect for each other”




“Thank you”

“Obviously we weren’t perfect for each other, but good to know you thought so, now I know never to let you set me up.”


Or something like that.  The point is, I cut it off.  I didn’t allow someone to get the “skinny” on something negative that happened to me.  It wasn’t their business and by reliving it, I was not able to release it. 


Today, I see it as a blessing.  Before I got to that place I had to realize that I wasn’t the only one.  Other people broke up and were fully able to move forward with their life, why couldn’t I?  And I did.


There are very few people that can claim such horrendous circumstances in their life to claim that they are the only one.  Nelson Mandela is one that comes to mind.  But the thing about Mr. Mandela is that he still remained positive.  He didn’t wallow.


Stop wallowing.  You are not the only one and although it might satisfy someone’s curiosity, don’t relive the experience.  Accept it, learn from it and move on.  This will allow you to reconnect with the world again and truly move on.  And one day you might find that this horrible event was one of the best blessings you could have ever received.


Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Certified Professional Resume Writer

Brand Strategist & Career Coach