Friday, October 30, 2015

Apples Just Aren't Apples & Neither is Your Resume ***Bonus Blog***

Joan and I were at the grocery the other evening. While she checked off the items on her list I found myself square in front of a huge display of apples.

I didn't know there were so many varieties of apples.

Did you know the best apple pies are made with more than one variety of apple? 

Okay, moving on.

Driving home I thought about a conversation I had earlier in the day with a client.

He wondered why the resume I created for him didn't look like the resume I'd created for his brother.

You're not your brother

Blank stare

Despite what the "experts" opine on a regular basis a resume is 3-dimensional. Imagine a beating heart. (I didn't actually say "opine" but I always wanted to use the word.)

He nodded.

In other words it's just like your DNA - No two alike. 

The easiest way to explain this, so you can get back to your life, is like this:

Everything you've done in your life and career has an individual imprint on it.  That imprint  is yours alone. While other people may share your interests and qualifications no one does it quite like you.

So how come your resume looks like everyone else's?

How come it's not like that display of apples - distinctive?

Whether were a Boomer, Gen X, Y, Z or a Millennial we all pretty much stick with the tried and true.

I mean, it's your career right? No sense fooling around with it. Make it vanilla, predictable and  safe.

But then when you sit around waiting for your phone to ring for an interview, maybe it's time to look beyond the experts, ya know?

We don't hire resumes, we hire people. Make yours a mirror of you.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The Humility Trap

Ever get that feeling that something just isn't right?

A pebble in your shoe? A meal that didn't sit right on your tummy? No matter how many ways you look at it something just isn't right!!

I was working with a client who was preparing for a final  job  interview

But something wasn't right. So I asked

I don't feel comfortable John. A lot of this sounds like I'm bragging.

Is it all factual?


You gave credit where credit was due?


No plagiarism, theft or exaggeration?  


I sat back and looked at her and grinned.

You've fallen prey to the Humility Trap. When you look at yourself a little voice says one of two things: "No one is that good! or "Just who do you think you are?" 

She laughed, out loud.I mean the real kind,from the old days.

We chose a path to follow, work hard and set some goals. We make sacrifices, at times, because we saw very clearly where, how fulfilling and satisfying life would be. It was worth it!

Then in one fell swoop, we sit before a group of somebodies who could help us reach that goal and we downplay and minimize everything we've worked on for so long and so hard.

That could be an alternate definition of insanity. 

Humility has it's place, but never in our career search or development. That myth was spun by people who didn't put in all the hard work, make the sacrifices and set the goals we did. So someone, somewhere turned a plus into a minus.

I asked my client three critical questions:

Is it factual - No exaggerations?
Did you acknowledge other people who participated and assisted you? 
Was what you accomplished authentic? 

When you answer yes to each of those questions you are acknowledging your worth and value. 

You worked hard. you should be proud and the right employer will see your value as a determined and confident candidate. 

My grandma said it best: "If it's the truth, it's not bragging"

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Don't Ever Get Comfortable

There is part of me that just wants to leave it there, hit "publish."

No matter what path you choose to follow in life, your career is an important relationship. I always wonder why that relationship is often left to chance.

My advice is pretty vanilla.

Always (Did I say always?) have a plan in place for whats around the corner.

In most cases we don't anticipate it.

"John can I talk to you for a second?"

After a few mumbled "I'm sorry's" and a lotta looking at the floor, you, your box and your career are headed for the parking lot and you feel like someones hit you over the head with a fence post.

No vacation, no new car, no man or woman cave. No addition to the house.

The experts and guru's - most of whom have never faced the situation you find yourself in as you walk towards the car - tell you it is time to grieve, to reflect, to examine your options.Ever try  telling the gas company you are grieving while they are wondering where this months payment is?

Have you ever trained athletically?

Something interrupted the flow and suddenly you aren't training or working out any longer.

In your mind you know you should be but it gets easier and easier NOT TO.

You start most of your sentences with "I used to...."

It's called a comfort zone. ( We are good at creating them!)

Going through an unexpected career transition may be painful and unsettling but after awhile, whether we admit it or not, we become comfortable with the change. It's similar to injuring your knee and knowing that if you turn the wrong way there is going to be some pain.

Why can't we apply the same logic and wisdom to our careers?

Keep your resume current.
This should be SOP for everyone, entrepreneurs, coaches and consultants included. But you know, it's like life insurance, 401k's and wills. Everyone says you are supposed to have one but very few people keep their resume current.

I'm not just talking about updating career moves and accomplishments. If you have not reformatted your resume in the past three years it may be out dated. It's not enough to have the old and reliable vanilla resume. When the unexpected occurs you can do a quick review and begin using it immediately as a career search tool.

Keep Informed
Since 2008 more often than not many people find themselves in a situation where they are living from paycheck to paycheck. Many of their jobs were eliminated or changed.

"It is widely believed that by 2020 as many as 50% of all jobs will be short-term contracts, freelance work and temporary assignments. We know now the average length of service at any one company for Millennials is 2.6 years. But how are we changing our talent management practices to address these facts?" Pamela Harding Next Dimension Media

That is a scary proposition and its only four years away.

What can you do right now to prepare yourself  if you find a sudden career transition puts your income at slightly more than half of what it is today? There are number of strategies - enough to fill an entire blog posting.

Is it time for you to start looking at "other options" before thy look at you.

The internet has given us limitless opportunity to research anything our hearts desire.

What about alternative careers and should you start preparing for a transition now?

My next five or six blogs will cover career transitions and how to prepare.

So as my late mentor Lou Tice always said

"Stay tuned, there's more to come."

Sunday, October 4, 2015


"Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake.  After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper." 1 Kings 19 11-12

Two weeks ago I spent some time talking to people from all over the world about how to effectively network for your business and career.

From the USA to Ireland, Bulgaria, Australia, Canada and Mexico, people weighed in on what makes them  effective at  networking.

Authenticity, Integrity and Giving before Receiving; they were all cornerstones of their networking success.

But there was one quality I had over looked.

It's listening. More aptly put it's active listening. 

You know, like I am truly interested in what you are talking about because I am honoring the you as a person with valuable insights and a business or career you are proud of?


Gotta tell you it stung  a bit. 

When the bell sounds and the networking begins, if I'm not the first one out of the gate, I'm going over my elevator pitch in my head, refining it to my audience. Getting ready to put my best foot forward.

Excuse me, did you say something?

(((Oh, well I don't think I'll ever need a veterinary service for exotic reptiles so I'll smile, nod and add a few "Oh really's" !?!?")))

It never dawned on me that other people were doing the same thing when I was talking. 

When I listen to you I increase your chances of listening to me. 

Yeah sometimes it is a battle. 

I DO LISTEN! - Really I do. 

By that Friday morning I was in a bit of a tizzy. 

Somewhere during the drive over that Scripture verse slid into my head. 

"And after the fire came a gentle whisper." 

(Thank you Holy Spirit, ancestors and assorted angels who guide me.)

The prophet Elijah couldn't hear God's call because he was listening for all the wrong things. He was tailoring other peoples messages (God's) to his own personal needs.

Never mind that the message might be of benefit to someone he knew, loved or worked with.

How do we, me included, become more effective listeners.

First,  understand that listening isn't a passive skill but an active one.
REAL listening takes effort and self discipline. It's easier when I believe in my core values that what you share, even if it is something I'll never need or want, is equal in value to what I share.

Second, I can tell if you are listening.  - You are making eye contact when I am speaking.
I made a concerted effort to look at the speaker and take a few quick notes. It shows I'm engage. Ask them questions. You would be surprised that when it's your turn to speak how people will return the favor.

Third, practice the 5 P's - Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance. 
Networking is an essential part of your career or business. Just like everything else you prepare for networking should be something that is "good to go" when you arrive at the event.

One of the more effective net workers I know has her team work off a loose script she prepares for them each week. It is always something memorable - good advice or an FYI.  I've noticed, since I've started taking Remedial Listening Skills 101-A that the prepared person is able to listen comfortably to what other people in the group have to share.

How I listen to you says a lot about my character and integrity.

It's an uphill battle, for sure, because just like you I want to be heard.

"The hearing ear and the seeing eye, the Lord has made them both." Proverbs 20:12


This is the final blog I'm writing on networking. I hadn't intended for there to be 6 of them but every time I finished writing I felt I had more to say on the issue. I've been encouraged to put together a webinar series on networking. So stay tuned and if you'd be interested in learning more you can contact me at

Next week I'll begin talking about the issue of Career Transitions.  Should be fun