The Hit Parade: Five Minutes to a Better Career

I’ve been planning this in my head for years, and I’m thrilled to announce that the Hit Parade has arrived!

Let me explain.

Young businesswoman in a thoughtful pose

As a resume writer, my job is to help people advance their careers by putting their accomplishments into resumes and LinkedIn profiles.

So of course, I frequently ask my clients things like—

What have been some of your wins in this role?

What are you most proud of professionally?

Can you think of some concrete successes?

And you’d be surprised how often my sharp, savvy, forward-thinking clients respond with, “Ummmm…I haven’t really thought about that.”

We’re so busy rushing from one project to the next that we often fall victim to professional amnesia.

How am I supposed to remember what I did last year? I can hardly remember what I did yesterday!

But this inability to recollect and reflect on our successes and progress leaves us ham-strung when it’s time to promote ourselves professionally.

Whether you’re pitching a new project, polishing up a LinkedIn profile, requesting a raise, or even just explaining your work to a new associate, it’s much easier to self-promote in an effective, non-cringy way when you have some solid accomplishments at the forefront of your mind.

So here’s a simple tool I’ve created to make it easy-peasy to document your career accomplishments as they happen.

I call it the Hit Parade. Here’s how it works—

  1. Click here to access the simple Hit Parade questionnaire.
  2. Spend 5 minutes jotting down some basic information about your greatest hits from the last few months.

I finished a project.

I landed two new accounts.

I finished a professional certification.

I figured out a way to finish a process faster.

I fixed a client’s problem.

I received a note of appreciation from my supervisor.

I recruited a new team member.

We’ll save your info for you. (No one else will see it and we’ll never share it, ever.)

  1. Come back and log in any time to access, change, or add to your data. Then next quarter, I’ll send you a quick reminder when it’s time to make an update.

That’s it! Over time, you’ll build a strong, specific catalog of your career accomplishments and ongoing progress.

This 5-minute process can have major reverberations throughout your career, giving you the ammunition to present your accomplishments in a clear and compelling way.

Know someone who could use their own Hit Parade? Forward them a link a share the love!

Forget Naughty or Nice. This Christmas, give “Radical Candor” a Try

This Christmas season, don’t settle for Santa’s “Nice” list. This former Google exec says the real gift we should give is “radical candor.”

Ever gotten some painful, maybe embarrassing, but (sadly!) accurate feedback?

Not fun.

Executive coach and former Google exec Kim Scott recounts (fondly!) the day her boss took her aside and told her

“You say um a lot, and it makes you sound stupid.”

Rather than being offended or becoming defensive about this direct, negative feedback, Scott–

a.) Took the advice and got a speaking coach to eliminate her um problem.

b.) Figured out what exactly makes for effective feedback or guidance.

The result of Scott’s research is her rather surprising claim:

“I would argue that criticizing your employees when they screw up is not just your job, it’s actually your moral obligation.”

Scott asserts that the single most important thing a boss can do is learn how to give, receive, and encourage guidance. She calls her approach “radical candor.”

Radical candor is telling the hard truth from a place of caring.

Radical candor happens when you both “care personally” and “challenge directly.”

She pictures it this way:

radical-candor-1

Or in other words, at the intersection of the “give a damn” axis and the “willing to piss people off” axis. A place where you care enough about a person to tell them hard truths.

radical-candor-2

Radical candor is—

Humble

Helpful

Immediate

In person (in private if it’s criticism and in public if it’s praise)

Doesn’t Personalize.

Here’s a video of Scott’s talk describing how she hit on the notion of radical candor and how to use it to become a better leader and friend.

Can you see some places (at home or at work) where you could use a little more radical candor? And which axis do you need to work on? Are you short on caring personally or challenging directly?

Merry Christmas!

LinkedIn 101: 3 Simple Steps to a Strong LinkedIn Profile

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again—

A strong LinkedIn profile is an essential, no-excuses, must-have in the modern career market.

But many people I talk to feel intimidated and overwhelmed by LinkedIn. Profiles. Networking. Posts. Comments.

3 fingers.jpeg

It’s true that using LinkedIn can get complicated. Recruiters, marketers, job seekers, expert networkers, and thought leaders dig deep to use LinkedIn’s functionality to grow their brands and connect with clients / employees / employers / partners.

If becoming a LinkedIn super-user is your thing, that’s great. But if not, here’s how to press the easy button.

Add these 3 components to your LinkedIn profile and you’ll dramatically increase the reach and professionalism of your profile and position yourself as a savvy professional.

1. Summary section

The very most important part of your LinkedIn profile is what’s called “Summary” section. This section functions a lot like the qualifications section of a resume and it should contain a statement of your personal brand.

This section is highly optimized in LinkedIn searches. This means that any keyword or phrase that you want leading to you—think recruiters or potential customers googling for someone like you—needs to be here.

What to do:

Write a brief paragraph or a few bullet points (or a combination thereof) describing what sets you apart, what expertise you bring to the table, and what you have to offer.

Don’t stress over making this poetic or perfect. Just start with a simple, straightforward statement of who you are and what you do.

2. Work experience

Populate the “Experience” section of your LinkedIn profile with your basic work history. This a.) lets users know what you do, and b.) enables LinkedIn to do its networking thing to let former colleagues and associates to find you.

What to do:

At a bare minimum, list your-

  • Company Name
  • Title
  • Time Period (LinkedIn won’t allow you to skip this, but don’t feel obligated to list months.)

Include at least your work history for last 10 years or since you graduated from college, whichever is shortest.

For bonus points, include a few bullet points outlining the scope of your role and highlighting a few of your biggest accomplishments.

3. Picture

Yep, you do need one. It’s a part of LinkedIn genre/culture. You don’t want a glamour shot, and you don’t want an unprofessional picture of you at the beach or at a party. (Unless you’re a beach volleyball player or party planner.)

What to do:

Next time you’re dressed for work and having a good hair day, stand in front of a blank wall and ask one of your friends to snap a pic with your phone. Crop it to head-shot dimensions (from mid-chest up) and post it on your profile.

Congratulations! You now have a solid LinkedIn profile that puts ahead of many, many professionals out there.

To make your LinkedIn profile really work for you, revisit it every few months. Spend 10 minutes or so clicking through your profile, adding new info, and making little tweaks to keep everything fresh and updated.

 

Get Clarity on Your Personal Brand

I’m thrilled to announce that I’ll be conducting a workshop at Westminster College’s Westminster Weekend this Friday. The topic is personal branding and career development. We’re going to zoom out wide to get clarity on personal brand and then zoom in and do some hands-on career development projects. It’ll be both enlightening AND productive.

(And I’m going to talk about my all-time favorite resume client–the world’s foremost expert on international supply chain for sausage casings.)

Find out more and register here. I’d love to see you there!

WHAT: Building Your Personal Professional Brand with Angela of RedRocketResume

WHEN: Friday, September 16, 4:00-5:30

WHERE: Westminster College, Salt Lake City, UT

Checklist for a Great Resume

One of the challenges for many people in preparing a great resume is…knowing what exactly makes up a great resume. Here’s a handy checklist of the major components of a strong resume. How does your resume measure up?

Resume checklist

Does it look sharp?

Good looks aren’t everything, but they certainly help. Make sure your resume is easy to read—clean, not cluttered; sharp, not confusing.

  • Does it have a well-designed letterhead with your name larger than surrounding text?
  • Does it include your contact information (name, address, phone number, email)?
  • Do you use lines or some other visual cue to separate different sections of the resume?
  • Does it use bullets?
  • But not too many bullets? (Bullets are meant to increase readability and help key items stand out, but if everything is bulleted, everything blends together.)
  • Is it in a clear, readable, commonly used font? Arial and Times New Roman are classic stand-bys. Calibri is one of my new faves.
  • Does it have ample white space in the margins? (Keep one-inch margins on the sides and at least a half inch on top and bottom.)
  • Is it limited to two pages?
  • Is it free from typos and errors?

Does it have all the right pieces?

Resumes are generally organized into a handful of major sections. This shorthand helps hiring managers quickly find the info they need.

  • Does it start with a Qualifications section?
  • Is work history listed in reverse chronological (newest to oldest) order?
  • For each job, do you provide company name, location, job title, and years of employment?
  • For each job, do you provide a brief description of your duties and scope?
  • Do you provide quantified accomplishments?
  • Does it provide the most detail for your latest jobs, with less detail on older/less relevant jobs?
  • Does it omit information that is personal, outdated, or off-target?

Big Picture

A great resume is clearly focused on a specific target. A resume that knows what you want helps you get what you want.

  • Does it convey a clear, unified message about who you are and what you do (aka your personal brand)?
  • Is it focused on accomplishments and benefits more than responsibilities and duties?
  • Does it speak to the desired qualifications for the type of job you’re seeking?
  • Does it replace niche industry jargon or company-specific phrases with better-understood translations? (Imagine a recruiter or HR person who isn’t necessarily familiar with the technical details of your target job.)
  • Is it consistent in terms of formatting, verb tense, organization?
  • Does it aim toward your next job (not your current job)?

How to Motivate People at Work

Ever feel baffled by a coworker’s failure to follow through on a commitment? (He said he’d finish that report today!) Or dismayed by your own flakiness? (I swore I wouldn’t have a doughnut at lunch!)

How to Motivate People at Work

It can feel confusing and frustrating when we can’t figure out how to motivate someone (including ourselves) to follow through. But deep down, we all realize that rolling our eyes at others’ foibles isn’t kind-hearted or productive.

That’s where the Rubin Tendencies framework comes in. Gretchen Rubin’s book Better Than Before is about understanding how habits work and how to use them to make life better.

(I loooove that book title. I’m all about progress. I don’t mind if my train is still far from the station as long as I know it’s chugging in the right direction.)

Rubin suggests that the world is made up of people with 4 different types of decision-making styles, based primarily on responding to outer expectations (what others expect of me) or inner expectations (what I expect of myself).

Here’s how Rubin describes it:

UPHOLDERS respond readily to outer and inner expectations.

They wake up and think, “What’s on the schedule and the to-do list for today?” They’re very motivated by execution, getting things accomplished. They really don’t like making mistakes, getting blamed, or failing to follow through (including doing so to themselves).

QUESTIONERS meet only their inner expectations. In other words, they meet an expectation if they think it makes sense.

They wake up and think, “What needs to get done today?” They’re very motivated by seeing good reasons for a particular course of action. They really don’t like spending time and effort on activities they don’t agree with.

 REBELS resist all expectations, outer and inner alike.

They wake up and think, “What do I want to do today?” They’re very motivated by a sense of freedom, of self-determination. They really don’t like being told what to do.

 OBLIGERS meet outer expectations but struggle to meet expectations they impose on themselves.

They wake up and think, “What must I do today?” They’re very motivated by accountability. They really don’t like being reprimanded or letting others down.

Rubin gives this example: An upholder can train with a trainer or exercise on her own. A questioner can do either, if he thinks it makes sense. A rebel will do neither, because the fact that she has an appointment or an item on her to-do list makes her want to disobey. An obliger can meet a trainer, but can’t get to the gym on his own.

Rubin says that understanding this framework is important because “if you want to motivate yourself (or someone else) to do something, it’s key to know how a person will consider and act upon that request or order.”

Of course this framework has its limitations. Not every person fits neatly into a single category. We may behave more like a Rebel in one situation and an Obliger in another. But I find it very illuminating.

For example, I had always assumed that my husband and myself made decisions within similar paradigms. Turns out, I’m an Upholder, but he’s a Questioner. Aaaaah. Explains so much. And one of my children is definitely that magical but maddening breed of Rebel.

Many times the conflict (or just confusion) we feel dealing with other people—at work or at home—derives from our own inability to perceive how the other person reads the motivators. It’s easy for us to conclude that the other person is misinformed, foolish, wrong, difficult, selfish, problematic. And sometimes we’re right. But whether we’re right or wrong is completely irrelevant, because once we allow ourselves to place blame, we decimate the potential for productive problem-solving.

A much more beneficial (and compassionate and fulfilling) approach is to identify the other person’s point of view and to accept that this point of view makes sense to them. By accepting their view rather than fighting against it, we enable ourselves to leverage it for mutual success.

Instead of…

He won’t turn in his reports on time.

Think…

I get that he’s a Questioner, so to him, spending time on reports makes no sense.

Which leads to a solution…

I need to explain why these reports really do affect the bottom line.

 

Instead of…

I already told her the best way to handle this project. Why does she refuse to follow my lead?

Think …

She’s a rebel. It bugs her to be told what to do.

Which leads to a solution…

We’ll be better off if I give her space to figure it out on her own.

 

We can even try this compassionate acceptance on ourselves.

Instead of…

I hate that I never follow through on my decisions to eat better and get more sleep. I’m so weak-willed!

Think …

These are all internal goals, and those don’t work so well for me. I’m an Obliger who does better with external motivation.

Which leads to a solution…

I need to create some external expectations for myself. Maybe I’ll commit to my lunch group at work that I’m ordering salads at least three times a week. And I’ll use an app to log my sleep hours.

Have fun pegging your colleagues as Obligers, Rebels, Upholders, or Questioners.

20 Ways to Sleuth a Target Company BEFORE You Apply

Sort of like Facebook stalking—for your career.

One habit of savvy professionals is to keep tabs on companies of interest, such as companies that have a product you believe in or a workplace culture you admire. And any time you’re applying for a job, it’s well worth your while to do a little sleuthing on the target company’s background, branding, and vision.

Sleuth a Target Company BEFORE You Apply for a Job

A few minutes of Internet research can give you insights on your target company’s brand, vision, and direction. This gives a clearer picture of what they’re looking for in their employees, how you should tailor your resume, and even how you should present yourself at an interview. (Suit and tie or hipster glasses?)

Here are 20 ways to sleuth a target company, all without leaving your desk chair.

  1. Google recent news and buzz about the company.
  2. Use LinkedIn to find connections of yours that work/ed there. Reach out to those connections to learn about the HR structure, hiring strategies, company culture, and other choice deets.
  3. Call the company switchboard and ask who you can talk to about the job opening.
  4. Read the About and Vision pages on their web site.
  5. Call the company directory to find the HR manager’s name and/or direct email address.
  6. Check for Twitter feeds by the company or its execs.
  7. Research their competitors.
  8. Check for a company Instagram page.
  9. Check for a company Facebook page.
  10. Google the company’s niche or industry to identify trends and events.
  11. Google search their products. Notice where they sell, where they advertise, and how they market.
  12. Find out what industry events, conferences, tradeshows they attend.
  13. Use LinkedIn to view the profiles of people at the company in jobs that are similar to yours. Notice any common backgrounds they tend to hire from.
  14. Browse through the company’s web site and take note of how the company describes itself. What words are used to describe its vision, culture, purpose, and mission?
  15. Follow the company’s updates on LinkedIn.
  16. Read online reviews of their products.
  17. Analyze the branding of the company’s web site. Is it conservative grays and blues or stylish fuchsias?
  18. Find the names of their founder and executives and Google them.
  19. View your potential new manager’s LinkedIn profile. (Bonus: This might prompt them to look at YOUR profile.)
  20. Some companies post their internal mission statements and employee expectations online. See, for example, see here and here. See if you can find something similar for your target company by googling terms like mission statement and culture.

This kind of preparation is the foundation for an upwardly mobile career and a successful job search. Happy sleuthing!

And as always, reach out to RedRocketResume with your resume requests or career conundrums.