Now That You Have The Job You Don’t Need Your Resume, Right? Wrong

trashing-your-resume

You polished up your resume and landed a great job.  Now, sometime later, you are feeling the career itch again.  You are ready to make a move for more; more responsibility, opportunity, challenges or ability to learn new skills.

Great, if you have not kept your resume updated, now is the time to freshen it up for that next step.

Oh no, you tell me, you do not need to because the opportunities you want are internal, with the company you are with right now.  You won’t need a resume, they know you.

Wrong and wrong.

You do need a resume to apply for positions internally and do not assume they know you.

It would be wise to have two base versions – an internal and external resume; however, we are going to focus on the internal resume in this article.

The biggest difference with an internal resume is it gives you the opportunity to really speak the company language.  You are one of them – let it show!  You know the mission, vision, values and goals of the company, integrate them within your resume to demonstrate your understanding, commitment and contributions to these core pillars of the organization.

In other words: walk the walk, talk the talk of your company.

This is your edge.  Many organizations require existing employees to submit resumes for internal opportunities.  They also accept external resumes.  Do not rest in false comfort that just because you are already employed by the company that you are shoe-in for the position.

If you do not demonstrate value and an external candidate does, guess who will get the job?

This is where having a false sense of security if ‘they know me’ deflects from effort into your internal resume.

Your existing department may know you, but dose the individuals in the next arena?  Even if it is a promotion within your department, do they really know you?  Do they really know that you truly get and incorporate the company values, mission and goals into your everyday performance?

Putting that extra effort into an internal resume, rather than simply listing the jobs you have held since being with the company, will demonstrate two key factors:

  1. You get it (‘It’ being the company mission, philosophy, goals, vision and purpose)
  2. You care about this promotion, want it and worked for it. You were willing to put together a presentation that demonstrates you are the right candidate and did not assume it was a given.

Approach your internal resume from the external perspective.  What is important for this position? What skills will you need to demonstrate to prove you will be successful? What successes or accomplishments can you promote that supports your value?

Most importantly: write your bullets as value statements, not job duties.  For more on this, click here: If You Want Your Resume Read Do Not List Job Duties

Once you finish polishing your internal resume, put a gentle reminder on your calendar to go back now and then to keep it current.  If nothing else, make notes about important projects, contributions and accomplishments along the way so it will be much easier to quickly whip it into shape for that next more opportunity!

 

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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. 

 

 

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Write Your Resume Because Your Mother Said So

mom-because-i-said-so

 

When my son Jake was growing up, “because I said so” was not – in his mind – a valid reason for a request.

He was, and is, stubborn, intelligent, quick witted and a challenge-any-establishment-kind of kid. As he gets older, I can appreciate these qualities, most of the time. Of course there are still times that I have had enough of the challenge and the old, “because your mother said so” comes out signaling an end of discussion.

What I found most helpful when dealing with my son was to explain, in a manner which he understood, the why emphasizing the benefit to him.  Of course, there was normally another benefit, but that was hidden behind the ‘him’ reason because, quite frankly, that is the only reason he really cared about.

For example cooking.

All my boys learned to cook.  It was a requirement. Once a week they were responsible for planning and executing a meal.  Not a pop tarts with a side of mac and cheese meal, a real meal.  I taught them how to budget and shop for the necessary food; prepare and serve; and clean up after the meal.

My reasons were it gave me a break from cooking meals and eliminated any whining about what was for dinner. I also did not want to hear years later from a potential daughter-in-law that her husband never cooks.  That would be on her because my boys were going to learn to fend for themselves.

The reason I gave them: girls really like a guy who can cook and cooks for them.  Worked like a charm.  Of course, years later my son told me I was right, girls loved that he could cook; and his friends were also quite impressed with his budget/cooking savvy.

So what does this have to do with your resume?  A slightly odd parallel, but one nonetheless. You are learning to fend for yourself in writing your own resume.  During job searching and networking, people really like a person who knows their value, how they can contribute to others and can communicate it clearly for them to understand.

That is the baseline of your resume – to discover and be able to communicate your value – even if no one ever reads it.

Your resume is the baseline for everything for career transitions, whether looking for a change in industries or moving up in your current profession.  You have to know what you are cooking, what ingredients go into it and how to present it before anyone is going to be daring enough to take a bite.

There is a lot of preparation that goes into a meal. You have to know what ingredients you need, have a budget for the food, plan cooking times knowing some items will take longer than others, understand what seasonings or add ins are going to make or break each dish.

That is your resume.  A detailed look at what you have done in the past knowing the intricacies that make you unique and valuable.

Simply giving a description of what you were hired to do in the past is like opening a can of beans and plopping it in a bowl and calling it a side.

Start breaking your position down into pieces. Start with a general statement: what did you do?  Let’s stay with the cooking theme, and I am going to be very generic on this as it is an attempt at a fun example.

  • What did you do? I was a cook.
  • What does that mean, what did you do as a cook?  I prepared food.
  • How, what was involved? I had to get all the ingredients, plan and prepare the meals.
  • Who did you work with? I had staff that helped prepare and order.
  • How did you work with them? I oversaw some to make sure we had an accurate inventory and when to order; I worked with others making sure they got their items prepared at the right time before and during the dinner rush.
  • How did you do that? I met with the order staff weekly to go through all the items, plan meals and prepare orders. The assistants I trained them on how to cook, prepare and present food.
  • Who did that benefit and how? Our customers – they had good food; the company – it made more money; me – it gave me more time; my staff – they did better at their jobs, more efficient and more skills so they got better reviews and some moved up into better cooking positions.

Go deep to start having the ‘who did you work with, how, what did you do and what was the benefit’ conversations.  This will reveal your value and allow you to translate that to a document that will be easily understood by the reader.

But what if no one ever reads it, like I said before? Not a problem.

Once you detail out your value, you will be able to communicate it to any audience.  The parameters of the format above are similar to the behavioral based interview style The STAR Method: Situation, Task, Action, Result.  Most interviews are behaviorally based.  Having completed the resume exercise you will be fully versed and comfortable answering behavioral based questions.

When networking you will be able to answer the question ‘what do you do’ from a value perspective which will generate much more interest than responding with simply your title. You will be able to translate your value in a manner that your audience will understand which will engage them.

Writing your resume is a great exercise to rediscover and reengage with the things you love to do, what ignites your passion, what drives you, what is fun for you to do and what you do best.  It gives you a little spark and jazzes you by remembering that you are pretty darn good at what you do. It helps you better communicate with your network or potential employers so they can clearly understand your value and see how it would benefit them – translating to wanting to have you on their team.

If those reasons are not enough for you, write your resume because your mother said so, or at least because Jake’s mom said so.

 

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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. 

 

 

You Are Making Writing Your Own Resume Harder By Not Asking This One Question

pulling-your-hair-out-trying-to-write-your-own-resume

 

Writing your own resume stinks.

 

As a professional resume writer, I should probably be a bit more eloquent about it.  But let’s face it, you can put a pig in an Armani suit and it is still a pig.

 

No matter how much spin I put on it, if you are in the process of writing or updating your own resume I would bet dollars to donuts you have said more than once, either aloud or in your head, “this stinks!”  Or some version of that.

 

It does. It is hard.  You know what you want to say but not how to say it.  How do you fit everything in this one document? What do they want, what are they looking for? How can you make it look nice and not like a template? Why can’t this be easier?

 

All you want to do is to get this stupid thing together and demonstrate confidence in describing your value and expertise. Is that too much to ask?

 

Perhaps you have even gone to the web to do some research on how to write an amazing resume that gets attention.  Fantastic.  How long before you were overwhelmed with all the information and the amount of contradictory information?

 

That is just putting salt in the wound.

 

Stop the nonsense right now.  Step away from the resume, put down the coffee or wine that has been fueling the research and frustration of writing.  Stop writing, stop researching and stop thinking.

 

Stop, just stop.

 

There is one question I will bet you have not asked before you began this adventure and it just happens to be one of the most important questions to answer.  The answer will help frame your resume and align you with the jobs you want.

 

There is a catch – after you read the question, I do not want you to think it over, mull it around, take your time and devise a comprehensive answer.  Nope.  I want you to answer from the cuff.  Don’t think – just answer.

 

Are you ready?  Here it is:

 

What do you want people to know about you?

 

That’s it.  That is the big groundbreaking question.  It is as simple as that.  What do you want people to know about you.  That is your foundation. That is the whole point of your resume.  Getting your story across to the reader.  But before you can do that you have to know the central selling point of your story.

 

Start with that simple, easy answer.  Do you want them to know that you are great at sales? Or maybe you love developing teams and are really good at it. Perhaps that you are a compliance freak who loves the back office, in-depth research to solve the really hard problems. By the way, I still have a lot of compliance freak in me left over from my investment industry days so there were no stones thrown there.

 

Let’s take one of these: you are great at sales.

 

Ok, now what? Now, start filling in the blanks. We fill in the blanks by keep asking questions: why, how, who, what.

  • Why are you good at sales? What do you love about it?
  • How did you get to where you are? How do you ‘do’ sales better than anyone else?
  • Who do you work with?
  • How do you work with your clients, team members, home office, affiliates – any stakeholder that you interact with that improves your book and territory?
  • Who gains value from you doing what you do?
  • Who else? (your clients may get the value of your product, but how does you company gain value from what you do?)
  • How do you add value?
  • What is the value they receive?
  • What makes you unique?
  • What do you have that makes someone want to talk to you rather than someone else?

 

Now you are getting somewhere. Now you can start writing a resume that incorporates these elements into your opening and bullet points.  From this perspective you are demonstrating value, confidence and expertise.

 

Isn’t that what you wanted to come across in your resume all along?

 

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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

What Always Worked Doesn’t Always Work in Job Searching

changes-in-technology

I remember in my twenties in college when I lived off cheesy garlic bread from the little Italian restaurant around the corner from my dorm, few hours of sleep each night and carried a full load of classes while working a part time job and a full commitment of games, practices and workouts as a member of the dance squad.

I also remember when my son was younger and played three sports taking him to every practice, game and activity; working a full time job; caring for a family member battling cancer; managing a house and four dogs.

Where oh where is all that energy now?  There are days I look around and think, ‘I used to be able to do so much more!’

There are also times that I attempt to do something and think, ‘this used to be a lot easier’ with things like house repairs or climbing flights of stairs.  Age is a wonderful thing, I used to be able to leg press three times my body weight, now I sound like a percussion section every time I stand up!

I recently embarked on some house repairs and updates.  Nothing I really had not done before, yet this time it seemed more time consuming and a bit more of a hassle.  Nothing I could really put my finger on, but I did find myself saying, ‘it always worked before when I did this or that.’

That was the light bulb.  Just because something always worked in the past does not mean it will work again today or in the future.  We need to adapt.  Some of the projects were more difficult because the strength in my hands is not what it used to be.  Some were easier because there are better and neater tools and gadgets now.

If you are job searching, are you applying the ‘always worked in the past’ techniques?  Many of my clients had never had a resume, nor needed one.  It was a matter of a handshake or conversation.  The idea of having a branding statement if only to help define what it is they are selling (their value) to better communicate it to their audience is a complete unknown.

Resumes of the past were compiled of a desire statement “I am looking for a job that enables me to use my skills and abilities to help a company and its clients grow.”

The problem is, no one cares what you want.  What the reader wants to know is what can you do for them?  And no one really believed that line anyway.  Today you need to immediately identify what value you bring to the organization demonstrating you understand their challenges or pain points and know how to deliver the solutions.

Resumes of the past also detailed job duties – what you were hired to do.  It was very easy to transcribe your job description into your resume as bullet points.  Today, people do not care what you were hired to do, they want to know what you did.

Just because you list that your job duty is to manage a certain aspect does not mean you are any good at it.  How do you manage it, who do you work with, how do you work with them, who benefits and how demonstrates your value and expertise on the subject.

Networking in the past may have been telling your family that you are looking for a job.

Today you need to be more stealth in your approach.  Understand the value you add, what you want to do and learn to communicate it in a way that each of your different audiences can not only understand it, but can identify it when they hear others talk about it.  This way they can immediately say, “I know just the person you need to talk to!”

The biggest “always worked” action that I am on a persona mission to obliterate is assigning yourself a title.  Stop introducing yourself as your title.  That is not you!  That is the label that a company gave to you, it does not define you.

Instead, when someone asks you what you do – tell them what you really do: the value you add to people’s lives.  How do you solve problems for people, do you provide a service that makes their life easier or help them achieve a goal or desire? What is it that you really do?  That is what people care about, not your title.  It is also how people will remember you, refer and recommend you.

Change is scary yet there is a lot of help out there to help you take one small step at a time.  My recommendation – carve out a little private time to go through that last paragraph – what do you really do?  Dig deep, have a conversation and in the end you will be well on your way to finding a whole new way of communicating, job searching and networking that actually works for you.

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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 articles Click the “Yes Please!” button on the right.

 

 

Not Looking For A Job Is The Perfect Time To Prepare For a New Job

cleats - preparing resume for new job when employed

As a parent, I think we all have that one saying or phrase that absolutely drives our kids crazy. If you would ask my son I am sure it would be ‘you lack of planning does not constitute an emergency on my part’.

He would ‘forget’ about projects, deadlines or responsibilities and somehow it would spill over to me. Finding 24-hour stores to buy poster board or other supplies; finding cleats that would fit him, were the right color and would actually last past two games at the last possible minute or completing forms on the way to school.

He would get in quite the tizzy about the impending deadline and be frustrated with me because I did not alter my speed in helping complete the impending doomed task.  This is when the phrase would come into play.

He did not like the fact that I did not take on the urgency of the situation.  He asked me once why I did not and I told him because, quite frankly, it was not mine.  He knew, even without specific deadlines, that preparation was needed, yet failed to plan and prepare.

You do not do 2-a-day practices not knowing you are going to need new season cleats.  C’mon.

Maybe your job has been stable, given you the opportunity to learn something new – yet you  know you are going to want to leave. You are not quite fulfilled or you see a change in the industry or company that does not sit right with you.  Perhaps you are content, it is good enough, although if another opportunity comes up you would certainly entertain it, even though you are not looking.

You are at 2-a-days.

You are actually preparing for the next step in your career even if you are not fully aware of it.  There is one missing piece – what if that opportunity does come, out of the blue – then what?

Are you fully prepared?  Can you translate what you are doing to what you want to do?  Can you communicate effectively how you can easily move from one position to the next?  In other words: is your resume and interview prep ready?

I hope so.  Your break can happen any time, ready or not, it can happen.

I do hear people say that the resume is dead.  No, not really.  You see, it not only serves as a document that companies keep on file for their official records, as a means to introduce yourself to the right audience – it serves a greater purpose.

It helps you identify and communicate the  most important aspect of you as a contributing employee: your value.

What do you bring to the table?  It is not your current job description or any job description for that matter.  Those things are what you were hired to do.

Your value is what you do, how you do it and how others receive benefit from it.

You manage a team.  Yawn.  What does that mean?  What kind of manager are you?  Do you bark out orders, give numbers then keep locked in an office demanding quotas be met?  Or are you the roll-up-the-sleeves-in-the-weeds with your team get it done, motivating, mentoring manager?  Saying you are a manager does not give the slightest inkling into your value.

Oversee a budget.  Boring.  What does that mean?  Compile reports. Snooze. What information is included, where do you get it, how do you put it together and who uses it for what purpose?

Translating value into a resume is not just for the reader – it is for you.  When you compose a resume that is value driven demonstrating rather than stating you get the benefit.  This is your sales statement.  Before you can sell any product you have to know it inside and out.

Putting together your resume gives you the complete information about the product – you; the benefits, features, strengths and return on investment.  Knowing this information you can ace interviewing and networking by being able to adapt your sales statement to any audience.

When you try to put together this tools critical for career progression at the last minute it will most likely turn out like the 11th hour school poster board project.  Is that how you want to present yourself to an ideal opportunity that just fell in your lap?

If you are not actively looking for a job now is an ideal time to start putting your resume together.  There is no pressure or deadline that is breathing down your back.  Also, hiring a professional resume writer at the 11th hour is not going to guarantee success.  Many do not do immediate turn around because we understand that an effective resume is not simply translating your job duties into pretty bullet points within 24 hours.

Start now.  Take an old job think about what you did, how, who you worked with, how you worked with them and how they received benefit by you doing what you did.  This is the foundation of value.  You then have plenty of time to review, add, edit, tweak, evaluate, walk away, tweak some more and have a baseline ready.

That way when an ideal opportunity appears – or a worst case scenario (downsizing, mergers, closings etc.) all you have to do is a bit of tweaking and can engage immediately.  As Henry Hartman so eloquently said:

“Success always comes when preparation meets opportunity”

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As the Founder and Principle of Career Polish, Inc., a national career coaching and practice firm, I am an Executive Brand Strategist, Resume Writer and Career Coach. I work with individual clients, companies, leadership and teams to identify, strengthen and effectively communicate their brand, engagement, commitment and most importantly – their value – by learning and leveraging LinkedIn, resumes, networking, communication, relationship management, presence and influence.
I help people get from where they are in their jobs to where they want to be in their careers.

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

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

2 Questions That Should Define Your LinkedIn Profile

two

I get asked a lot about how to write a LinkedIn profile.

  • What should I say?
  • How long should it be?
  • What if I don’t want anyone to know I am looking for a job?
  • I’m not looking so how should it sound?
  • What should I include?
  • Should it sound like my resume?
  • How much stuff should I put in the profile?

These are all good questions; however, there are two questions that should be asked before any others:

 Who do you want to read your profile?

What do you want them to know about you?

Although these are the foundation of your summary; most people cannot answer it.

They caught a case of analysis paralysis.  There is an overwhelming amount of information available on how to write your LinkedIn profile we have forgotten the why.

The why is the who and what – who are you targeting and what do you want them to know. The answers to those two questions help you answer all others.

Let’s say, for example, that you want someone to know that you are a sales rock star.

Who do you want to know this – is it potential clients?  Or perhaps, although not actively looking for a job, you would not mind high level decision makers to take notice.

You have a good place to start – rock star. What else?  Dig here.  Ask yourself ‘what else” about five more times.  This will help you create a stronger, more personal representation of who you are – not just what you do.

So, what else?

  • You are competitive and like to win (still compete running marathons)
  • You like challenges (seeking out new markets and making a name for your company)
  • You like helping other people (help coach the new guys when they come on board and sit down with your clients to come up with solutions instead of selling them a product)
  • You can’t get enough information (always reading new content, attending training or coaching to improve your skills, going back to school, taking classes on woodworking because it has always interested you)
  • You coach little league and volunteer at the humane society

The things you want people to know about you go beyond your professional skills  – they incorporate your personal strengths.  Who you are as a person and how that translates to making you a rock star.  LinkedIn is a step beyond the resume, a peek behind the curtain so to speak, for people to see you, not just your career.

Now that you have some what’s to tell, let’s turn back to your audience.  I want you to think like them.  Why is it important for them to know these things about you?  Why would they care?  In our example, being competitive, striving to continually improve yourself, giving to others as a solution provider or mentor are all strong qualities of top performers and leaders. Giving back to your community shows you have a good balance in life and further rings true the giving back to others and helping.

You also want to put the proof in the pudding – give some accomplishments to complete the value statements.  If you provide solutions to your clients, that equates to money.  Making money for a company and helping your clients make money is good.  This is something they would want to know.

Once you know who you are speaking to (who you want to read your profile) and what you want them to know about you, it will become much easier to have that conversation.  Your summary is a conversation – a one-on-one conversation with the person reading your profile.

Click here for a quick synopsis and basic formula for writing a LinkedIn profile that supports where you are while showcasing yourself.  Although the article speaks to writing a profile looking for a job while employed, this formula is a good foundation to begin any profile.

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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 

Resumes: How to Demonstrate Remarkable Leadership

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

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

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

Authenticity

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

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

Accountability

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

Character

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

Adaptability

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

Competency

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your Value + Your Voice = Visibility

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

–Lisa

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He told me, not sold me.

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

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

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

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

Demonstration

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

Value

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

You

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

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

Story Telling

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

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

● Created workflow diagrams

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Leadership Balance – Stop Giving Yourself Away

leaderI have the absolute joy and pleasure of working with amazing individuals who change the course of companies, industries and employees’ futures through their leadership. They are admired, decisive, respected and the epitome of what future leaders aspire to become.

I have found an interesting correlations about CEOs, CIOs, CFOs, COOs, Directors, Founders and Executives from various industries who are the most influential and impactful leaders; they all have one thing in common: they absolutely stink at talking about themselves.

No kidding.

These professionals can command a boardroom and mesmerize, engage and electrify thousands of employees at company meetings, but asked to talk about themselves – it is a whole different story.

They are humble, but in a horrifyingly dismissive way. There is a time and a place for modesty. When creating a brand strategy or positioning yourself for a new challenge and direction, that is not the time nor the place.

There seems to be an overall preemptive approach that they assume – they do not want to come across as cocky, arrogant, a know-it-all etc.

There is a difference between cocky and confident.

Cocky is telling everyone that you are the best, without verification, proof or demonstration.

Confident is telling people what you do and the value it brings allowing them to make the connection and know you are the best because you have proven yourself through demonstration.

I have the conversation often with executives about presenting themselves without diminishing their value. They give themselves away boosting their teams yet costing them their identity and value.

Not too long ago, I was talking to an executive and I pointed out that he was falling into this trap. He said he never made the connection, even though he recently had an interview in which he boasted about his team and the interviewer replied, with a bit of exasperation – “I’ve heard enough about your team, what did you do?”

Talking with another client, he mentioned that he did not want to appear that he did everything in the company and was fearful that if asked about specifics of lower level positions, he would not be able to answer because he did not do the day-to-day work.

I told him that as a leader, he created the vision and strategy; he drives fruition by putting the right people in place and overseeing the implementation.

As a leader, you are not expected to complete all the day to day tasks, that is what your team is for; you do not even oversee the day to day management of the tasks, that is what your management team is for; you are the leader.

Leader: lead·er ˈlēdər noun: the person who leads or commands a group, organization, or country

Executive: ex·ec·u·tive iɡˈzekyədiv adjective: having the power to put plans, actions, or laws into effect; noun: a person with senior managerial responsibility in a business organization.

“Surround yourself with the best people you can find, delegate authority, and don’t interfere as long as the policy you’ve decided upon is being carried out.” ~ Ronald Reagan

The balance of telling your story as an executive leader is knowing your strengths and your value. Part of your strength is knowing what you do not or do not need to know and what you can delegate, this is when putting the right team in place is important – and that is another value that you add.

“Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.” ~ Jack Welch

Leaders build people. They mentor, they identify and motivate and they do this on a continual basis. They create succession plans for positions, companies and individuals. Leaders give and by giving they grow and create greater value.

“Effective leadership is not about making speeches or being liked; leadership is defined by results not attributes.” ~ Peter Drucker

Leaders know their clients and have a passion for value and profits. To provide greater value, you need greater revenue streams to give more, achieve more and be of greater relevance. They take calculate risks, make hard decisions and know the landscape to turn the clichés of “we can’t do that” or “it’s never been done before” into realities.

It is admirable to want to give credit where credit is due, and yes, it should be done; however, not at the expense of your value as a leader.

One executive that I coached told me he knew what he was good at and he knows what he is doing. When I asked him why he is not telling that story, he told me it sounded like bragging. I told him two things:

1. If you tell the story of what you do, how you do it and the value that is received then you are not bragging, you are simply stating facts.
2. If you do not tell your story, who will?

The leadership balance is between complete modesty by giving away or diminishing your value and stating you are the be-all-end-all without demonstrated substantive evidence. Meet yourself in the middle to remain true to yourself and position yourself as the leader that you are and that people want leading their company and their teams.

✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰

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

Your Value + Your Voice = Visibility

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

–Lisa

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

Embrace Your Inner Rock Star for Your Resume

Awesome guitar player jumps with passion in studioI grew up in the Midwest; I know meat and potatoes cooking. Beyond feeding my family, my son always had friends over so I fed many, many teenage boys. It is really nothing for me to whip up a good, old Midwest meal including a staple of meat and plenty of starches with some veggies thrown in.

Yesterday my guy and I decided it was a great night to stay in and catch up on some Netflix. I figured I would fix something quick and easy – pork chops and fried potatoes. You would have thought the man had never had real food.

Of course, this could have been a clever way to ensure he gets more homemade meals – and yes, he will. But he was quick to remind me that he exemplifies a typical single man – living on pop tarts and microwavable food. He was also genuinely appreciative and amazed at how easy it was for me. He made me feel like a rock star.

I never really thought about it, I know how to cook and the boys always gobbled up anything I fixed. I had never thought about giving myself credit for being a good cook.

It is all about perception and personal experience.

This is a perfect parallel to a major block people have when writing their resume: they don’t see their own inner rock star.

What they take for granted as just part of their job or just what they do are actually incredible points of value to others. We get stuck somewhere along the line in our career or paths as “just” a title, “just” doing a job, “just” anything. We lose sight of our inner rock star. We lose sight of the forest for the trees.

How do we block this and more importantly, how do we stop? There are three major contributors:

Duty vs. Value

One thing that I love about my job is hearing the stories of how people moved in and throughout their career. The different jobs, how they were thrown in and had to learn on their own, how they were influenced, how they figured it out and how they owned each step.

That last point is key: how you own it. What is it you do that makes a difference? It is the care and quality of your work, the steps you take to do it right.

When you have a thought, “I just do this” break it down. How do you do it, why do you take each step that you do? Dig deeper to find the rock star qualities that enable you to own it and do it so well. There can be other people that do what you do, but you do it different – you do it better.

What you were hired to do is a duty; how you do it in your own rock star way is your value.

Influence vs. Lack of Title

Many times we feel that if we do not have the fancy title, then we are not leaders. “I am not a manager so I can’t or don’t add much value.” Bull.

Some of the most influential people in my life have not been bosses, but peers or people that reported to me. They influenced me in some positive way that was not in direct alignment with their title.

This is the second form of how: how you influence others. Take the task performance out of it and think about how you influence others to do better. How you work with people, communicate, lead or inspire that makes a difference to others in getting things done.

Do you have a knack for taking very complicated information and explaining it to others in a very easy to understand way? Are you able to find a common thread for people to attach to and come together to get a project done? Are you able to point out the positive in other people to inspire them to improve?

This is the interaction part of what you do. If you are a natural leader, let that shine through. Rock stars shine and let that light serve as an illumination to others, not blind them with it.

Environment vs. Reality

This can be a tough one on many: where you work is detrimental to your inner rock star.

You may be doing spectacular things but the environment in which you are accustomed is sucking the life out of you. Maybe you have a boss that thinks if they complement you then you will slack off so they continue to point out the negative even when you are performing like a rock star.

This is also why I listed this point last: you have to have appreciation for your inner rock star to get over the naysayers that are around you. It is natural to want acceptance, praise or recognition. Unfortunately, there may come a point in your career where you work in an environment that provides none of those things and that can shake your confidence.

Before beating yourself up, take a look around you. A good, hard, honest look. If you know you did well and still got chewed out about a minor detail, look at it for what it is – not what it was presented to you.

Your boss may be jealous that you can do their job better than you, there may be a favorite in the office and it just isn’t you or maybe you are surrounded by idiots. Who knows, more importantly, who cares? Inner rock stars do not let others dim their light. They keep burning brightly and draw the right opportunities to them.

Write down your last five accomplishments on an index card and keep it in your wallet. After another horrible meeting, take five minutes to take it out and remind yourself of your value. Like Eleanor Roosevelt said, “All the water in the world cannot drown you unless it gets inside of you.”

Take Action

Now that you can see your inner rock star light shining it is time to put that into your resume.

Transform your duties into value: instead of describing what you were hired to do, tell them what value you provide.

Before: “Tracked inventory and purchases.”
After: “Maintained meticulous inventory and purchasing schedule streamlining processes that improved efficiency, significantly reduced costs and ensured appropriate part counts.”

Insert your influence that lends value.

Before: “Trained employees on new safety policies.”
After: “Motivated employees through effective training resulting in greater engagement of new policies and decreased safety issues.”

Every once in a while when you are writing your resume you might hear that little nagging voice in your head that is coming from your environment. You might write a great, value driven statement and all of a sudden that little bugger immediately condemns it and tells you that you are bragging. Well, you just tell it to shut up. If you are writing facts then it is not bragging, it is describing a truth!

Write on Rock Star, write on!