Your Modern Resume



So, since we talked about LinkedIn, you know what you need to do to get your profile up and make it beefy. I’m glad to hear that so many of you have taken steps in that direction – as Mr. Burns might say, “Exxxx-cellent.” Go ahead and keep tinkering, and realize that every time you make a change on your profile your LinkedIn contacts will get a notice. Use your updates strategically so people want to click over to see more, and let them put two and two together to realize you’re the perfect candidate for the job that just opened.

Although LinkedIn often serves as a resume proxy, as we discussed, you still need a resume. [collective groans]

For so many of us, the prospect of writing a resume feels an awful lot like… completing a tax return. And just about as much fun.

Back in the old days – you know, when you carried around a hieroglyphic stone tablet to job interviews – a resume was a very formal affair. Resumes were typeset, on ivory or white vellum, and had to be broad enough to attract different employers because most job seekers could only afford to have one version typeset. In those days, the world moved a bit slower, and hiring organizations often took their time with the process.

Today, the hiring process couldn’t look more different.

Speed is often a key consideration, as in “how fast can we get someone in here?” Agility is important, and thanks to home computers and good printers, it’s easy to customize a resume to a specific job posting.

But most of all, today’s resume is mostly a sales document, rather than an encyclopedic listing of everywhere you’ve ever been, everything you’ve ever thought or done. [unless you're looking for a job in academe or the  government - in those spots, you still need to keep it formal.]

A good resume, today, gets you in the door and into the interview. It’s simply a marketing piece.

A recruiter recently told me that there are sometimes more than 400 applicants for a particular opening in his shop – so your resume needs to quickly tell the story about why you are the perfect person to hire.

I am a sucker for concrete examples, so let’s look at my resume, shall we? Here’s the header:

Now, notice something. There’s my address, phone and email address. My email is very professional – not “”. [Believe me, it matters.] You might be surprised by the number of people who forget to put contact info on a resume. Result? Automatic round file. So make it easy, clear and right at the top.  OK, see that line? Above the line I define who I am, and then add my tag line underneath. This serves to set the tone for anyone who’s just scanning quickly. Then my resume moves into a summary section – I’m leaving the tag line so you can see how things are placed:

In this section, I’ve chosen to highlight the key things I do in my work – Coaching, Strategic Planning, Writing – and added Ethics because it’s reassuring. You’ll see a short client testimonial there, too, which serves like a LinkedIn recommendation – it’s a third party endorsement which provides some context for me and my work. You’ll also note that I peppered this area with keywords folks are likely to use to search out an executive or career coach. That way, if my resume gets dumped into a computer scan, the keywords will still pop my resume up in the search results.

Now, the average recruiter eyeballs a resume for three or four seconds. That’s all. So, it’s quite reasonable to think that someone could scan my resume just to this point – and what would they do if they only knew this much about me? They’d know enough to put me in the “yes” pile. How do I know this would happen? Because it already has.

But some people will be intrigued enough (and have enough time) to keep on reading.  Those folks will take a look at “Selected Professional Experience” – this is also strategic. That I worked at Roy Rogers Restaurant as a senior in high school adds nothing to the narrative I’m creating in the resume – the narrative that I am an outstanding, experienced coach – so Roy Rogers is off, and all the relevant stuff is in:

Subsequent experiences, like the Ronald Reagan Centennial Commission, my consulting practice, my work at a top lobbying firm and at The White House, as well as key Presidential campaign are highlighted. The descriptions are short, and specifically reinforce the idea that I have played with the big boys and know how to work under pressure.

My resume ends up with my education and certifications and two key volunteer activities that also go to my ability to get stuff done:

Notice, I ended the page with a footer – phone number and email address – to make it easy for people to get in contact.

Because that’s really what I want for the reader to do – to contact me. To read this resume and say, “Wow – she’ll be perfect. Let’s bring her in.”

And that’s all your resume needs to do, too. It needs to wow ‘em, and get you in the door.

What you do then…in the interview? Will be covered next week.



I Know You Can – But Will You?


In a book on communication styles that I read some years ago, the author made a big deal about the difference between two small words:



He said that if you want to get a sense of what’s possible, you use “can”. And if you want to get some action, you use “will”.

You might ask, “Can you please pick up your socks?”

And since you’re really just checking on the possibility that something might happen at some point or other at a time indetermined, the dirty sock party might reasonably answer, “I certainly can“.

But that don’t mean he’s gonna.

Don’t get mad – he’s being honest. You asked if he has the ability to do it, and yes he does, thank you very much for checking.

Once I read that little can/will gem of wisdom, I began to shift my own language to use Will more often.

Will you pick up your socks?” followed by the most excellent second question: “When will you pick up your socks?” Thus endeth the Sock Drama at my home.

In the process of being conscious about what I was really asking, I learned that there’s a lot of stuff people can do, but only so much they will do.

In our professional lives, we get all webbed up between can and will. I see this most frequently with people who are desperately unhappy in their jobs. They can get a new job, but will they?

Sometimes they hang on to can for a long time because dreamy possibility is much safer than purposeful action.

And, as my friend Martha says, some of us have a very, very long runway. We have to rev up, rumble and run through a lot of can before we get to will, and take off.

Back in 2005, Fast Company magazine published a classic article called “Change Or Die” by Alan Deutschman which explored personal motivation. Deutschman mentions a study of heart bypass patients – within two years of their surgery, 90% of patients had made no changes to the unhealthy lifestyles that had originally led to their surgery.

That’s a long runway, baby.

Investigating the why, researchers found that doctors  mostly used fear of dying and further illness to motivate patients to change their behaviors – “Do what I tell you, or you will die.”

Well, yes, I can do what you say, doctor, but will I? No, because I’m already overweight and sluggish and unhappy, and recovery from surgery was a mess… you want me to deny myself food I like, and exercise (which I don’t like) just to extend this crappy life?

But when doctors began saying to patients, “If you make these changes, you’ll be able to play with your grandchildren. You’ll be able to finally go to Disney World. You’ll go back to swing dancing with your wife. You’ll be able to have sex again.”  Those things motivate.  Those things? You will do.

Visualizing a happier future is perfect who are in jobs they’re not suited to. Focus on what you will be able to do when you’re out of your toxic soup of a job, and you’ll get yourself into something a whole lot better.

Oh, I know what you’re thinking. The devil I know is much better than the devil I don’t. How do I know, for sure, that a new job would be any better?

Honey, you’ll never know for sure, unless you try.

And, you have to know your own runway. Long or short, as you’re rumbling down the tarmac ask a lot of questions about office culture, and expectations, and listen real well – to your heart as well as your head.

Possibilities plus action. Can plus will.

Next thing you know, you’re flying.



Why Bother With A Plan?

The first business plan for my coaching practice was written on the back of a placemat while waiting for a lobster in an out-of-the-way shack in Maine. It was 2004, and I was on my way to visit some friends for a little R&R. I started thinking about my business and made a few notes:

- How much money I wanted to make in the next year

- How I would price my services to meet my income goals

- How many clients that meant I needed

- What kind of programs that meant I needed to offer

- What kind of additional training I would need

- How I would talk about my services

While I deconstructed a delicious lobster, I noodled on my plan. And when I removed the very attractive bib from around my neck and paid my check, I had a strong, workable direction for my business.

And I put that one-year plan in my purse and didn’t look at it again for six months.

Surprisingly, though, in that six months, I had done everything on my plan. Ahead of plan.

That’s right – I didn’t obsess, or over-think. I just executed.

Because the mere process of creating the plan – just putting my to-dos top of mind – catalyzed my action.

Now, there are those who detest plans. Maybe because they think plans are too rigid, don’t allow for creativity, aren’t that spontaneous, won’t accommodate serendipity.

[These people tend to - in Myers-Briggs talk - have a strong preference for "Perceiving", the dear darlings. They value flexibility above all and will do anything in their power to preserve their ability to go with the flow. And I completely get it. That's why I started this post of with the lobster story - just to show all those P people that planning can be easy. And tasty.]

A great plan, though, is not judged on how many tabs, tables and cross-references it includes.

A great plan is judged on how well it works.

With a plan, you know where to put your energy.

With a plan, you have a direction.

With a plan, you know what to say a whole-hearted “Yes!” to, and what to put in the “When There’s Time” file.

And planning can be easy. Easy-peasy.

Want to do one yourself? OK, take out a placemat-sized piece of paper. [lobster bib always optional.]

Answer these prompts:

- What do you want right now, more than anything?

- What’s your life going to be like when you get what you want? What’s it going to look like?

- Who are you when you’re at your best? What elements are in place? Which of these things already support getting what you want?

- What’s the first thing you need to do?

- Whose help do you need to do it?

- When can you start?

Focus, and put your best effort into these questions. When you’re done, you’ll realize that you have a plan, sugar.

Then fold it up and put it in your pocket.

And I’ll bet you, in six months, you’ve accomplished everything that needs doing.

Bet you a lobster dinner.



If you need a little help getting your plan together, there are still a few slots available for this Friday’s Get Yourself A Plan Retreat in Arlington, VA.  If you live outside the DC-area, you can sign up for the Virtual version of the Retreat.  Registration closes for the live event on Monday, February 27th, and on Wednesday, February 29th for the Virtual Retreat.


Noticed a little bit of conversation these days about politics? Not only in the U.S., where we seem to have a permanent presidential campaign in place, but also in Europe, in Asia, in South America…

Commentators in this country continue to refer to the nation suffering from a “crisis of confidence”. Maybe that’s true.

Maybe we are tired of the law partner who pockets a record bonus but tells the associates and support staff that there’s no money – again this year – for their raise.

Perhaps we’re too used to hearing about the minister with the $100,000 Mercedes parked in front of his mansion.

It could be that we’re fed up with hearing that people are going to “change Washington” and yet nothing ends up getting done.

We see real incongruence between what we expect and what we get, and that’s precisely how our confidence is undermined.

That’s a word I’m loving these days: Congruence.

It’s when things line up. It’s when what you see is what you get.

Congruence is truth.

Congruence is whole.

Congruence makes sense.

And a person who is congruent – they mean what they say, and predictably do what they say they will – is truly a person of integrity. Pundits may see the world suffering from a crisis of confidence, but I’d call it an Integrity Deficit.

Somehow or other, many leaders – some of them self-appointed – seem to have forgotten that people eagerly follow those with integrity. Whether you’re a politician, an office manager or a life coach, being a person who means what she says, and does what she says she’s going to do, is the person who’s really successful.

Now, we all know people whose integrity is, shall we say, “compromised”, and yet they seem to thrive and maybe even get ahead.

That’s an incongruence right there, huh?

But what goes around comes around, and I have never, ever met an incongruent person whose personal narrative ends well. Have you?

That karma thing is plenty powerful.

And it always works.

So, now is as good a time as any to assess your own personal integrity.

  • Do you ever say yes when you mean no, and wince about it shortly after the words have left your mouth?
  • Do you consistently miss deadlines and break commitments?
  • Do you fib about having sent in the payment, when really you haven’t even written the check yet?
  • Do you concoct a story about where you just were, rather than admitting what you were really doing?

OK, you’re human.  But do you feel good about this stuff? Or does it add to your stress?  Create overwhelm?

Then get congruent, baby.

Start in a small way.  Start by making only those commitments you know you can meet. And then acknowledge to yourself that you did what you said you’d do. Maybe even give yourself a little reward for that.

And, make an effort to really watch your words.  In The Four Agreements, author Don Miguel Ruiz suggests that one way to insure happiness is to:

“Be impeccable with your word. Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.”

I hear you – truth and love in the workplace? Just for a minute, drop your skepticism and think about it a different way.

I know from experience that shifting toward integrity will profoundly change your work experience. It will profoundly change your marriage, your parenting, your friendships and everything else in your world.

Integrity changes anything it touches for the better.

That is the truth.

You know, I have a dream.  I dream that one day our global crisis of confidence will be replaced with the peace, certainty and progress that integrity engenders.

But that will only happen – our leaders will only become people of integrity – if we, first, become so ourselves.


How To Get A Job – 3 Stories


Three stories.  All told last week.  Three different people.  Three job opportunities.

Only one gets the position.

Read on.

Sophie went into her interview full of confidence.  Piece of cake. She was highly qualified, and met the job description perfectly. Her interviewer – an older woman.  Another piece of cake. Sophie leaned back, relaxed and prepared to ace the interview.

Then a question came – a tough question – and Sophie wasn’t prepared. She assumed this older lady was going to be an easy touch. Sophie stammered.  Sophie couldn’t find the right words. Sophie felt flummoxed.

She went from leaning back to leaning forward.  Heart racing.  Bombing it.

She did not get the job.

Janice went into her interview a little panicked.  Panic that had started two and a half years ago when she lost her job. And immediately went on a large contract that ended up getting pulled. And then tried consulting. But couldn’t generate any work. She feels like the last couple of years have been all about failure after failure. Plus, she has the kids, and then there’s her husband, and they all have their demands on her time.  She really thinks they would prefer her to stay home and take care of them all day. And, frankly, a part of her would like that, too.

But women who don’t work – who are they? And is it really reasonable to ask her husband to shoulder all the expenses? Especially in this economy.

So Janice went into the interview conflicted. And the energy she gave off to the interviewer was confusing.  Did she want the job, or not?  Because Janice asked few questions, and never really talked about her own strengths and capacity.  She mostly sat there, looking nervous.

She did not get the job.

Kate didn’t have a job interview this week, but she got a new job.


Kate had explored how she could be happier in her work. She analyzed who she enjoyed working with, and what kind of work energized her. Then, she identified people and organizations she’d like to work with, and developed a pitch about how she could specifically help them – how she could do what’s not getting done, and do it efficiently.

And then at a meeting already scheduled with one of her target companies – a client of hers – she said, “What if I joined your team and took care of this for you?”  Eyes lit up.  Hands were shaken.

And she had the job.

What do these stories tell you?

They tell me that not only has the economy changed, but so has hiring.  No longer are organizations hiring warm bodies because the plan says there are six people in that department and we only have five.  Today, organizations hire because they are in pain.  Something’s not getting done.  Something important, that affects the bottom line.  And the maxed out people currently in the department are already doing the work of three people. Each.

So someone gets hired. One someone.

Someone who makes a good case for himself.  Someone who has good energy.  Someone who is not afraid to take a little risk to get what they want.

This is the way people are getting hired.  These are the new rules.

If you are looking for work, check yourself.  Are you playing by the old rules, or the new ones?