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

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

Sounds like a resume to me.

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

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

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

Challenge 1 – Too much information

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

google search write a resume - lisa k mcdonald

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

Step away from the research.

Challenge 2 – Talk yourself out of it

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

You see, you know what you need to write.

Yes, you do.

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

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

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

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

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

Let me help you with this.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Just do it!

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

Challenge 3 – They may not like it

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

Bueller?

Bueller?

<<<crickets>>>

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Value

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

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

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

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

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

Which leads right into the second critical component: your voice

Voice

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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 I help professionals break out of a suffocating job existence and into a career that renews their brilliance.

I am triple certified as a Professional Resume Writer, Social Brand Analyst and Career Coach. My clients learn to identify, strengthen and effectively communicate their brand and most importantly – their value – by learning and leveraging personal branding as applied to LinkedIn, resumes, networking, communication, relationship management, presence and influence.

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

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

How To Get Rid Of The Snooze In Your Resume

Snooze Resume

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

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

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

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

Snoozefest.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ahhh yes, that’s it.

The punch comes in the thwarting and crippling.

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

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

Synonym

 

 

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

Merriam Webster

 

 

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

 

Graph Words

 

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

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

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

 

 

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I do what I love: help professionals break out of a suffocating job existence and into a career that renews their brilliance.

I am triple certified as a Professional Resume Writer, Social Brand Analyst and Career Coach. My clients learn to identify, strengthen and effectively communicate their brand and most importantly – their value – by learning and leveraging personal branding as applied to LinkedIn, resumes, networking, communication, relationship management, presence and influence.

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

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

 

 

 

CIA Strategy Makes Your Resume Irresistible

CIA Resume Writing

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

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

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

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

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

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

Like the CIA.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If you had the following sentences:

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

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

See how this works?

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

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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 ★

The One Question Almost Everyone Asks & Hardly Anyone Answers

Interview - how do they know you are still interested

Building a network, expanding a business, searching for a job or just being neighborly, what is one of the first questions we are asked or ask others?

What do you do?

It seems simple enough and I bet a lot of people would say that they do answer that question. What is your normal response? I’ll bet dollars to donuts it starts with “I’m a …..”

If that is your answer, you are not answering the question. Oh no you are not.

The question is what do you DO, not what is your TITLE.

Titles are boring, snippet summaries. They do not really tell what you do – except in the case of a pediatric neurosurgeon. In that case, yes, it does sum it up nicely.

But for the rest of us not saving the lives of tiny humans, our title does not – or more accurately – should not define us.

What we do is bring value to others in a unique way. It is part of what we are as a person. A title does not reflect a person. It reflects a job.  Many people can have the same title yet be on opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of value, style and ability.

Take me for example. To say I am a resume writer is partially accurate. I do write resumes. I also write LinkedIn profiles. So should I say I am a resume and LinkedIn profile writer? Nope, still just the tip of the iceberg. I also coach and train on networking, leadership, communication, interviewing, negotiation, branding….and let’s not overlook that I do not just work with those who are unemployed. I work with leaders going to the next level, those who want to improve their effectiveness where they are, athletes, coaches, trainers, motivators, entrepreneurs, heads of corporations and more. I build confidence, bring out their inner rock star, support, give a little kick in the toushy when needed, challenge, celebrate… Saying I am a resume writer does not encompass all of that.

Oh, and let’s not forget – there are many others that are resume writers, coaches etc. What makes me different? Well, my work is comprehensive not volume based. I get to know my clients. I don’t rely solely on questionnaires. I really give a damn about my clients and their success. Our work is interactive, they have skin in the game. I am tenacious in getting them to where they want to be. I love what I do and bring fun into the equation. I have real conversations, ask tough questions, support them through the process and the best feeling in the world for me is when someone reads what we have put together and they say, “Holy crap – I’m awesome!”

Replying with “I’m a resume writer” really falls short of all that now doesn’t it?

So what is it that you do? How do you do it better than anyone else? And yes, you do what you do better than anyone else. How? By the way you do the thing you do, maybe by your approach or mindset. Whatever it is that makes you awesome, own it by giving yourself permission to say so. Once you figure that out, NOW you can get down to really answering the question.

So tell me, what do you do?

 

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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 ★

 

 

How Your Brain Sabotages You When Creating Your Personal Brand (And How To Make It Stop)

Personal Branding and Your Brain

Do you know why most people struggle when creating or communicating their personal brand? Because they make it all about themselves.

Well, that seems quite contradictory now doesn’t it?  I mean your personal brand is all about you so if you don’t make it about you then who the heck are you talking about and how does it relate to you?

Your personal brand is about you – it is right there in the beginning of this sentence; however, there is a huge block in the way: your brain.

When you sit down to create your brand and begin with the “I have to write about myself” you approach it from the all about me stance. When you put pen to paper you get brain freeze.  If you manage to thaw it a bit and actually write something down, your brain whispers to you in that little voice, “you’re bragging”.

That’s it – game over.

Your brain works against you by telling you anything that you write about yourself is bragging!  Unfair!

Your brain is really trying to protect you, most people do not like talking about themselves so it is keeping you from doing something uncomfortable. Great leaders do not like talking about themselves because they don’t do it, they promote others. So the brain puts the brakes on.

Gee, thanks brain, but we still need to do this! So how do you get it to play nice and help you?  Shift the focus to value.

It is pretty simple and painless, it is only four questions: Who, How, What How.

  • Who do you work with?

  • How do you work with them?

  • What do you do?

  • How do they benefit?

The beauty of this is that it can start in a very broad sense – an overview if you will – then these questions can be used to target and explore.

The first time you go through these questions you will probably think about your overall position.  When you answer the first question you might come up with three groups that you work with: your team, your leadership team and your clients.

Break them out separately and use the four questions again.  If we took your teams and asked who do you work with, you might respond with: the team as a whole, the leadership of the team and individuals on the team.

With each break down answer finish asking the questions.  How do you work with individuals, do you provide support, mentoring, learning opportunities, help them identify where they want to go and how to get there?

Great, how do you do that? This is where it may feel a bit strange at first or your brain starts waking up that there might be something going on here and fight back with, ‘what do you mean how do I do it, I just do it.’ No, how do you do it?

No one just does anything. There is a system, process and skills involved. Break it down as though you are describing it to someone that does not know your position.

Lastly, who benefits from you doing what you do, the way you do it and how do they benefit?  For example, your individual employees: if you provide formal and informal mentoring, this may help them develop their skills to improve their performance, spark new interest in them, help them set and achieve goals of advancing in the company.

Once you go through these questions and break it down (current and previous jobs) you will discover you will have comprised a lot of information. You now have a gold mine because we tricked your brain!

It is not about you – it is about providing value to others.  Secondly, you are not bragging, you are simply telling your story with facts, not flash.

Find similarities and themes in this information for the broad stokes of your brand and the details can be used to compose your resume and LinkedIn profile.

Four simple questions lead to you creating a value-based brand with demonstrative skill backed information that will translate consistently across all your communication platforms.  That wasn’t so hard now was it?

 

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

As the Founder and Principle 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

 

Resumes: How Do I Fit A 20+ Year Career On One Page – You Don’t

Frustrated writing resume

That is one question or concern I hear a lot, how am I supposed to fit 20 or more years of my career on one page when I am ready to start transitioning into my next new adventure.  To be honest, most people do not say adventure, that was me, but the concern is still the same.

You don’t.

This is not about one page or two – that debate is ongoing with each side having valid arguments. Here are a couple of articles I have written on the whole one page or two debate: Resumes: One Page or Two – and Why They Fail Based on Length Alone and One or Two Page Resume – Why It is a Shot in the Dark and Doesn’t Matter.

The bottom line is if you have the goods, the reader will read your resume whether it is one page or two.  That also leads to the answer about not fitting a lifetime of a career on one page (or two): it is not about the career so much as it is about the value.

The point is not to put your entire career in there; it is to speak to the value that you bring to an organization to be the solution or solution driver to their challenges.

To be blunt, and that is my style, no one cares about every single thing you have done over a decade or multiple decades. They only care about what is important to them.

They have an idea of what they are going to get – resumes from people who think they are qualified. What they want is someone who understands their industry, the position, the challenges and who can speak to how they successfully overcame these things in the past.  Past performance is an indicator of future success.

For the next adventure –what are the tools necessary to not only survive but thrive? Leadership, operations, finance, logistics, information technology – what are the core skills they want? Now, how can you prove your proficiency with these tools to demonstrate success in your past adventures?

If you spent 10 years in the Arctic, that is a whole different adventure than your time in the Amazon.  If you are going to a jungle location, speak of your time in the Arctic only in what applies in the jungle.  They are not going to care about dog sledding or making igloos. Those may be great stories and skills, but unless they mean anything to your jungle audience, they will not care, which translates to an unread resume.

Your value is not only where you have been and what you know. Your true value to the reader is what you know and how you have done what you have done in a way that translates to a positive return on their investment in hiring you.

So how you do translate a 20+ career on one page – you don’t – you translate relevant value to the reader from your experience in the length that works for you.

 

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

As the Founder and Principle 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 

Make Your Resume Stand Out: Know The ‘What’ And ‘Why’ Before The ‘How’

what-why-how-resume

 

There are no hard and fast rules for resumes, which can make it difficult to know what to write. A lack of knowledge or overload of information, if doing research online, can lead to generalization.  Generalization is using your job description as your resume.

It is perceived safe to use a job description – and easy. What you do is already written out and can easily be plunked in your resume. However there are two challenges with this theory:

  1. It tells the reader what you were hired to do, not what you did.
  2. It leaves out the two most important elements that should be in your resume: you and your value.

The point of your resume is to convey to the reader that you are their perfect candidate for the position. Generalization does not accomplish this goal, it actually works against you: you end up sounding like everyone else.

Before you begin to write – the ‘How’ – think about the position you are targeting and clarify two items:

  1. What skills or strengths are necessary for this position?
  2. Why are these things important?

These are the ‘What’ and ‘Why’ and will make the how easier.

Roles are changing in business, rarely is one position siloed. There is an interconnection to strengthen two most important aspects: revenue and efficiency. A Chief Financial Officer is a great example. This role is evolving from a purely finance function into a strategic leadership partner.

They have a key role in decision making from strategy creation, implementation and measuring impact. They must be able to communicate their insights to the executive team in a manner that allows them to fully grasp the relevance and practical application of the information to identify risk management, value creation and opportunity to improve efficiencies.

They can have a unique advantage in understanding the organization in full spectrum for a high level to in the weeds perspectives. On a broad scope they can ground the executive team conveying real time consequences of financial or operational decisions while directly impacting line functions from vendor selection to system changes to realize improved efficiencies or cost reductions.

Given this we can quickly pick out a few ‘What’s , what stills or strengths are important for the role: strategy, communication, collaboration, vision to name a few. The ‘Why’s following the ‘What’s are the results: smart decision making, strategy design and implementation, capitalize on opportunities to improve profitability, reduce costs, expand markets and so forth.

Now to the how: how did you do what you did, who did you work with, how did you work with them – these questions help you frame the how. Sometimes it is helpful to include the challenges in the ‘How’. If you helped overcome a significant challenge, knowing why it was so challenging gives more depth and impact to your contribution.

Here is an example:

  • What is important: Get everyone on the same page and moving forward on new initiative
  • Why: Do the right thing for the client – new initiative mission and motto
  • How: Communication, leading change
  • Challenge: big internal resistance to change

After a bit of tweaking – and adding language that supports and represents you:

Overcame internal barriers by championing X initiative leveraging targeted, consistent communication and internal advocates to create enterprise-wide buy-in with the overarching vision: do the right thing for the client.

As said before: the point of your resume is to convey to the reader that you are their perfect candidate for the position. You are actually writing for them – to them – to get this exact point across.

Know what is important for the position and why is actually knowing what is important to them. When you speak their language demonstrating your value, your message will be heard loud and clear.

 

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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. 

 

The Key To Keywords: Be Easy To Find Not Easy To Forget

keywords

When writing your resume or LinkedIn profile to propel your career, you might be led to believe that keywords are the most important element or the key ingredient.

They are not. They are important, but not the most important element. They are like the crust for a cherry pie. You need the crust to hold it all together, but the most important part is the cherries. In this analogy, your value is the cherries.

I am not a foodie or food snob so I cannot get into the intricacies of pie crust. All I know is it cannot be too dry, too thick or too bland. It should enhance, not overtake or distract from, the pie filling.

The point of keywords is primarily to help you get found in a search. This is the easy to be found part. When they are forced into your profile or resume without purpose it makes you easy to forget.

The key to the perfect crust, or use of keywords, is the right blend of three things:

  1. Generic & Specific keywords
  2. Context
  3. Saturation

General and Specific Keywords

Do your due diligence before deciding on keywords. Research open positions, job descriptions, expectations and LinkedIn profiles of individuals in the role you desire. Leverage tools like TagCrowd.com to get a visual word cloud and take your own notes. If you are staying within the same industry or position, capitalize on your expertise to add words to that list.

Use acronyms if staying industry specific and expand the abbreviated form to cover any form of search criteria by the hiring organization for relevant keywords. Determine if there are acronyms that are not necessary to spell out.

For example, if I were writing my resume for my time in the financial industry, I would use both AML and Anti-Money Laundering within my resume. However, when detailing my licenses, I would simply write FINRA Series 7, 9, 10, 63, 65, 26, Life & Health, Property & Casualty and not spell out Financial Industry Regulatory Authority.

The case for general keywords is made for search purposes. When searching for a candidate, some searches are performed with a broader net of title or keywords and more selective of other categories to hone in on candidates. Others are performed with a specific title or set of keywords in mind.

For example, if looking for someone in sales, a recruiter may choose to use “Sales” instead of “Sales Representative” because any title with the word “Representative” would appear in their results. They can leverage other categories like location, years of experience and other factors to make a more robust, relevant list.

If your title is specific, for example Account Executive Northwest Territory you would want to use more general keywords in the description of your position to hit the keyword buttons. These might include account management, product development, business development, consultative sales, sales, sales cycle management, marketing, marketing management, analysis, channel or territory management.

Use a blend of generic and specific keywords to be found by any type of search performed.

Context

It used to be when ATS (Applicant Tracking Systems) were first put into place they simply counted the number of times a specific word appeared within the resume. People got creative – they drowned their resume with those words, even using white font in the margins to bump up the numbers.

These systems are smarter today, they not only identify words, they can identify context. They can now tell the difference between performing a certain skill for six years and haven taken a class on this skill six years ago.

This is where context is important. If you leverage keywords naturally in demonstrating your value, they will appease both the computer ATS and the human eye that will read your resume next.

Use keywords to demonstrate.

This is how you will accomplish the not easy to forget part.

Your value is not your title or your job duties. No one cares what you were hired to do, they care what you did.

To communicate your value think about who you worked with, how you worked with them, what you did and how they benefited. Translate this to a bullet point interjecting keywords to elaborate and strengthen your story. Position your accomplishments around the keywords.

This is talking the talk to demonstrate you walked the walk.

Saturation

You can overdo it with keywords. It will make your resume cumbersome and lacking direction. Your job is to demonstrate to the reader that you are the ideal candidate to solve their problem. Using a double crust will dilute the taste of the pie filling and be the center of attention instead of the cherries.

A long list of keywords without context is meaningless. It can communicate that you know the keywords but not the industry, position or value that you possess or is required.

My son played football, I spent years in the stands watching him and look forward to doing so again. Yet to this day I have no idea about positions, offense or defense strategies. I can throw out a boatload of football words but it does not mean that I can tell you if the team is running a man-to-man or zone defense.

Use keywords to enhance, not dilute, your message and value.

The purpose of keywords is twofold: to be found from a search and to demonstrate and support your value. Using the right keywords, in the right context in the right amount will accomplish both these goals.

 

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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. 

 

The Best Way To Write Your Resume – Stop Trying to Write A Resume

cheshire-cat-doesnt-do-resumes

Now how does that title make sense? Not writing your resume is the best way to write your resume?

It does seems like Cheshire Cat logic – but don’t disappear on this idea just yet. Read on and hopefully the concept will be more clear than the cat in all his glory up in the tree.

(Oh that was terrible, I apologize, I seem to have some weird fixation on Alice in Wonderland theme going on. It probably will not get any better…)

You want to write a resume document, but not write the document as a resume.

More Cheshire Cat logic?

It is the approach, Alice – all in how you think about this document, and its purpose,  that will make the difference between painstaking or productive. It will also have a significant impact on the content and if it will garner the attention that you really want.

But first, why should you not perceive or approach writing this document as a resume:

  1. Most everyone hates writing resumes (except professional resume writers, we are a unique sort) so you are already in a bad mood about it. When has anything turned out well when you start off all sour about it?
  2. Hardly anyone freely and easily speaks ‘resume’ (again, except us professional resume writers – we are the hit of the party with this one) so it is not a comfortable writing style.
  3. Most resumes templates are geared toward duty based documents. If you have not done this in a while or just doing research to help freshen it up, odds are you are going to come across a template or two.
  4. You might ask friends to take a look at their resume, just keep in mind most do-it-yourself resumes are duty based. This means that the bullet points under each position neatly and vaguely tell the reader what the person was hired to do. Meaningless. Just because you were hired for these things does not mean you did them or did them very well.
  5. It might be a natural inclination to assume.  No need to tell the reader what something means, they should be ale to figure it out, right? Wrong. They know nothing more than what you tell them. They are not going to read further than what is presented to them. That is not their job. It is your job to tell them what they need to know in a clear and meaningful way.

The key to writing a resume without thinking about it as a resume is to think of it as a conversation.A conversation to tell your story, the way you want the reader to understand it.

Cheshire Cat again?

Vary rarely will a career have a straight and narrow path up, up, up. For most of us, it is a windy, twisty road full of the unexpected. To anyone else, it does not make sense why you went to this company or that, how this position came about and promoted into that one.

This is your story, you may be the only one who truly gets it.

So your job is to bridge the gap between all the twists and turns with the reason why the reader would want to talk to you: your value.

The common thread between all the positions you are listing is the value you provide by performing duties leveraging your strengths, skills and expertise.

So when writing your resume, sit down at that computer or pad of paper and have a conversation. Think about writing out your side of a conversation with the Cheshire Cat looming above asking:

  1. How did you get there?
  2. What were you originally hired to do?
  3. How did the job every change after you started?
  4. What did you like most about the job?
  5. What did you learn while you were there?
  6. Any other questions that get your mind thinking about the value you provided

Respond in full, write it all out as though you were having a conversation because that is where you will find the hidden nuggets of value to transform into a value-based document.

The fun part is going back and slashing and dashing to make sure each bullet point is now demonstrating value. Don’t forget the key words and let your old friend Mr. Thesaurus help you out to start making it sound more resume-ish.

Once you start getting the knack of storytelling for value purpose, you will soon have a resume that even the Red Queen would read!

(Oh yes, I had to finish it up in the Alice in Wonderland theme, it could have been worse – I am a huge X-Men fan, just think what I could have done with Wolverine references!)

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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.