Do you understand the magic in knowing and living your values?

Do you understand the magic in knowing and living your values?


If you cringe or wonder what’s up when you hear phrases like “value-driven”  or “live your values” you are not alone. 

For many years I ran away from the term “values” because I associated it with a political group from my childhood. That group used values to judge and condemn. They attempted to use their proclaimed values to disempower individuals with a different worldview. 

Today my skin still crawls a bit when I *ask* people about their values because I am afraid they might think I am going to judge. But I ask anyway because as I career coach I know that understanding and living our values is a highly personal endeavor that gives individuals agency and helps them to live a life they love. 

Knowing your values means that instead of forcing your worldview on anyone else you live your own values. Knowing your values means that instead of living someone else’s values, you live your own. 

Why is this important? Because when we let outside influences dictate our values we get stuck. We feel yucky, we lose our motivation and most of all, we lose our power to act according to our own internal compass. This increases feelings of discontent, stress, and anxiety. Values hit us at our core. This is why they are often called CORE values. And knowing them makes it easier to live our lives and make choices that work for us.

Values guide us and diminish our fear of deciding what needs to be done.

The Importance of Core Values

Core values drive our decision making. If we know what we value making a decision becomes a choice and we are empowered to do what we believe is best. The greatest personal achievements, the most wonderful feelings of accomplishment, and the best intrinsic motivation come from intrinsically motivated actions. 

The Oxford Online Dictionary gives the following definitions of intrinsic and extrinsic:

Intrinsic

Belonging naturally; essential.

Extrinsic

Not part of the essential nature of someone or something; coming or operating from outside.

Values for our purpose refers to principles and standards of behavior — what is important to you in your life. How you show up for others and how you hope they will show up for you. You can see with the definition of intrinsic and extrinsic, that if we want to feel and live authentically, our values should ideally be intrinsically motivated. 

As a career coach, I call these our CORE values. There are several exercises that we use in the coaching world to help people identify their core values. I like to use this Values PDF from Brene Brown’s Book Dare to Lead. If you’ve never done a values survey, I’d suggest setting aside 10 or 20 minutes to do so right now or when you finish this article.

Instructions: Complete your own Values Survey using Brene Brown’s PDF with this exercise. 

Stop “Shoulding” on yourself. 

Once you’ve completed the values exercise you can continue to use this process in your life. If you feel overcommitted and stuck or if you are having trouble with a particular decision or task try reframing it by switching up your language.

Which is more empowering?

I must bake a hundred cookies for the bake sale because as a good mom I should show that I care about the school. I have to bake these cookies tonight or I will look bad. I won’t get enough sleep, which stresses me out and I might wake up late and be rushed in the morning. I am already frazzled because when I wake up late I yell at the kids and we are all late.

OR

I need to say no to baking a hundred cookies for the bake sale because as a good mom I value the time that I have and so I chose to go to bed early tonight so I can get a good night’s rest and wake-up on time to get my kids to school and me to work in the morning without being stressed, rushed or yelling at my kids.

OR

I love to bake cookies and so I choose to stay up late tonight because I enjoy participating in my kids’ bake sale and I value making this kind of contribution. I know that this is my choice and so even though I may not get all the sleep I need, I will not be stressed in the morning, because I’ve already let my boss know that I’ll be 20 or 30 minutes late. This means that I can take the time I need to get the kids and cookies to school without being stressed or angry.

I must versus I need

I should versus I value

I have to versus I choose to 

Here is another example — I want to improve my health by exercising more. 

I must get up at 6 AM to exercise because my doctor told me I should. Remind me to set my alarm because I have to get up at 6 AM! And, then I feel like a sloth because I sleep in. 

OR 

I need to get up at 6 AM to exercise because my health is important to me. I value my health, therefore, I chose to get up at 6 AM to exercise. And, I do. 

 See the difference? Feel the difference? 

In positive psychology, we call this “stop shoulding” on yourself, because when you should all over you tend to end up feeling pretty shitty. When we feel shitty it tends to build and then we feel bad all around for not living up to our own expectations and also our perceived expectations of those around us. We think we let ourselves and everyone else down all the time when we “should on ourselves.”

Getting clear on your values and then using this to reframe the actions and activities that you take in your life allows you to be authentic to yourself and to the people that mean the most to you. Knowing your values alters your worldview and frees you up to love more and live better.

Worldview

Humans are meaning-making machines. 

Wherever we grow up; however, we grow up, we attribute meaning to the language and actions of those around us. We grow with the rules and expectations of our local culture. Sometimes the culture and rules we experience at home are different from what we get when we leave the house; sometimes we move regions and have to adapt to new rules and ways of doing things. 

One of the things you will notice about most publicly successful people and even privately successful people is that as they grow up they tend to exude confidence. Where does that confidence come from?

A big part is having a clear values system backed up by an active and conscious worldview. Conscious is crucial, because you already live your life with a worldview, it’s the being intentional about it that empowers us to live a life aligned with our values.

Your worldviews is a mix of what you’ve learned and what your mind, heart, and gut tell you is right. It’s the foundation for how you make choices and what lets your mind play mental gymnastics without anxiety or guilt. 

A strong worldview will let you know when you need to do the right thing for the wrong reason; or when maybe you should actually do the wrong thing for the right reason. For example, sometimes the best thing we can do is to tell someone “no.” Saying no can be a gift, in the same way, that discipline is love. 

Your core values are the foundation of your worldview. But there is another important component that varies for each of us and that even changes over our life. These are our character strengths — what we value in ourselves and others. Things like gratitude and an appreciation of beauty, or spirituality or honesty. 

When I work with coaching clients one of the first things I ask them to do is to take the VIA Character Strengths survey. 

VIA Characters Strengths

The survey and the basic results are free, so this test is accessible to anyone reading this article online. You can pay for a more detailed report, but for our purposes today, I don’t find that to be necessary. 

Here is the link to the VIA Character Strengths Survey and my career coaching exercises.

Once you have your results you can put them to use two different ways. 

Your Unique Values

This is how you show up in the world. If you are someone who always notices and fights against the inequities in the world then “Fairness” may be a top strength for you. The VIA report will highlight your top 6 strengths, but give you a list of all 24 in descending order. 

The last strength on your list is not necessarily an indicator that you don’t value or are “bad” at this strength. What it indicates is that it is not as important to you in how you live your life as your top strength. 

For example, I admire and value spirituality, but I’ve not been raised with a strong spiritual practice and I have never made it a priority in my life. Spirituality is one of my “last” strengths. 

On the flip side, my life has been defined by a search for beauty and excellence. I’ve had to “recover” from perfectionism and I am truly bothered by ugly things and places. My number one top strength? “Appreciation of Beauty & Excellence.” This is why my office is my personal oasis, why I always keep houseplants and adore flowers. If I could live in a Japanese botanical garden, I would! 

What you look for in others and the world

Your VIA strengths are also useful for you in looking out for what you value in a place of work or in a company that you do business with. If your workplace is in conflict with what you value, you will always fill at a disadvantage. 

If our CORE values as discussed in part one are our principles and standards. Our Character Strengths reflect our ideals and requirements for the world in which we live. If we do not recognize the importance of both types of values in our life, if we do not own what is important to us by creating and defining our worldview, we will always be wondering why something doesn’t feel right. 

This right here is one of the reasons that journaling and meditation can be such powerful tools. 

When we write in a journal we are safe from the influence and judgment of others and we can work through things like our values. The following questions are things that you might wish to journal about or think of during a time of meditation or quiet reflection. 

I recommend journaling for two reasons. The first is the physical act of writing with a pen on paper activates areas of the brain that deal with healing and processing. Writing is more than thinking — it can actually help you work through ideas and formulate or reformulate your world view. 

Maybe we need to change the phrase “Laughter is the best medicine” to “Laughter and handwriting are the best medicine!” 

Journaling Prompts

Given my top 6 VIA strengths — am I surprised? How do they align with my current priorities in life? Do I want to change anything? If so, why or what?

What brings me feelings of peacefulness?

What causes me to feel joy? 

How do I feel right at this moment?

What is causing me stress right now?

What makes me feel alive?

If I could wave a magic wand and change one thing, what would it be?

What do I need to feel safe or secure?

Why do I worry about _________? What about this is important to me?

Over a single sitting or several weeks try journaling and meditating on your character strengths and core values. Write them down and think about how they show up in your life. 

Notice during your daily activities how and when you experience different emotions, such as anger, joy or guilt dependent on the interplay of your values and what happens in life. 

Notice if certain activities, people or places particularly energize you or drain you. Then take some time to think about the world view you’ve been living with and maybe how you’d like to adapt it to match your core values and strengths. Doing so should be intrinsically motivating and may even cause you to feel elated and or deep joy and gratitude. 

Notice how clarifying your worldview simplifies your life and makes taking choices easier. 

How Values Show up in our Work

In the workplace, real equality means valuing family just as much as work, and understanding that the two reinforce each other. As a leader and as a manager, I have always acted on the mantra, if family comes first, work does not come second — life comes together. If you work for me, and you have a family issue, I expect you to attend to it, and I am confident, and my confidence has always been borne out, that the work will get done, and done better.

Anne-Marie Slaughter

When looking for work we need to live our values. We also need companies that value what we value. When it comes to men and women in the workplace, equality doesn’t mean valuing women on male terms, it means valuing each person’s unique life choices.

Families are important. Parents are important. Partners are important. Life. Work. Purpose. Everything is interconnected.

Meaningful work is important. Demeaning and soulless workplaces literally kill us. They increase our stress and cortisone levels. They create apathy and reduce engagement.

If you are unhappy in your current job you can do two things. You can try to reframe your current work and position so that you enjoy it more. You might do this by talking openly with your manager about what is working and what is not. You might ask for a special project or a promotion, you might ask to move laterally or even go back to a previous position.

If that doesn’t work then you might need to create a plan to find a new job. Maybe you need to pivot. Maybe you need to completely switch gears. Maybe you want to upskill and go back to school or get a certificate.

Whatever you do, first get clear about your values, your strengths, and your interests. Make sure that if you invest the time in creating a new future that it’s a future aligned with the direction you want to go. Make your move a choice and you will be empowered to create your own success.

Once you are clear about your values, make sure the companies you target also have clear values. If you are going to walk your walk; the expect the same from your employer. This article on Power to Fly about Zapier’s company values is a great example of two companies that have clear values and that live their values.

“Integrity is choosing courage over comfort; it's choosing what is right over what is fun, fast, or easy; and choosing to practice our values rather than simply professing them.”
Be a SuperWoman: Live Your Values

Be a SuperWoman: Live your Values

See the difference? Knowing your values empowers you to live the life of your choosing. It simplifies your decision-making process and facilitates intrinsic motivation. Pushing your values on someone else is also likely to fail, so understanding the values of those around you is an important step to building empathy and direct communication.

I start nearly all my coaching relationships with a values survey because self-awareness is the foundation for building a life you love. 

If you can only do one thing today towards building yourself a more satisfying and resilient future — that thing should be thinking about and identifying your core values. 

You might even call your Core Values your personal Holy Grail. 

Career Choices We Make to Be Better Moms

Career Choices We Make to Be Better Moms

When was the first time you consciously said yes or no to a career path or job because you knew you wanted to be a mom?

The first time I distinctly remember making a career choice based on my desire to be a mom was in late 2004 (I was 26). Newly engaged, I started to think about what my life would look like as a mom and a wife.

At the time I had a job I enjoyed working for a boss I loved; however, I knew that to remain happy I needed to continue to move up the ladder. In my current role as Front Office & Guest Services Manager, my destination job was as General Manager of a hotel.

All the GMs that I knew were men, but that hadn’t previously entered into my calculations. I’d started in my first hotel job at 18 and by age 22 I’d already created and managed a Guest Services department of Bellmen and Valets, most of whom were older than me and all of whom were male.

I’d chosen hotel life, because I am a “people first” kind of person; I loved the hands on management of staff, and I loved facilitating an environment in which our guests knew they were important, valued and welcome in “our home.”

Book links in this post are Amazon Affiliate links!

What Makes a Family Friendly WorkPlace?

Not long after I’d put on my engagement ring; I received a call from my Night Auditor. They’d had a fire alarm and some issues closing accounts. At 1 AM I found myself crawling out of bed in the cold of Colorado winter night (thankfully no snow) to head into the hotel and get things sorted out.

By the time we finished up it was 4 AM and I had to be back at 7AM to greet a group of British Tourists, so I stayed a work (a perk of hotels is beds are easy to find). The more time I spent with my fiance and his 9 to 5 job, and suddenly the flexibility and perks of hotel life that I’d loved as a young single, didn’t seem to me like a good job for a mom and wife.

For better or worse, I quit, heading back to school to get a masters degree and with hopes I’d figure out another path. Instead, I faced a good 6 years of indecision followed by several more years of figuring it all out, restarting and stopping several careers, and getting divorced. along the way.

If only I’d known what I know now back then, I probably would have actually been quite happy to stay at the hotel. In this it wasn’t my job that was out of alignment, but my ideas about what family life should look like.

Core Values are Crucial

On one hand, I was smart to listen to my gut, when she told me that certain things were not aligned with my values. On the flipside, what I didn’t know was that many of my values were societal “I shoulds” and not actually my personal core values.

Another mistake I made, is that I thought I had to figure this all out on my own; had I sat down and had an honest chat with my GM (the proud dad of three kids) I might of started to understand my internal conflicts in a different light, but I didn’t.

Ultimately, I made big decisions based on what I thought I should be doing, verses on what I valued.

KNOWING YOUR STRENGTHS HELPS YOU UNDERSTAND YOUR NEEDS

Not only was I operating on miss-aligned values, I didn’t actually understand why I was good at certain things and why other things were always a push, nor did I understand what I really wanted out of a job, which was flexibility.

Like many “smart” people, I attribute my success to my smarts and hard work, not the subtleties of the different activities.  And, when I got bored at work, I immediately started to lose interest.

I’d been successful in the hotel biz, because my core strengths are strategy, adaptability, and communication. I have high empathy and appreciate a job well done. I am also high on input and learning, which means I need to variety (good in a hotel), and the opportunity to continually learn (hence my rapid movement from PBX operator to management).

What I needed in a job was that ability to continually grow, learn and contribute to strategy, while also honoring my personal needs for healthy living (fitness), and family time. If I’d been honest with my GM about these things, I am sure we could have figured out how to make it work. He was that kind of guy.

Determine Your Clifton Strengths 2.0 (Buy a new book or Kindle to get the code to take the online test)

Job Crafting: Understand and Voice Your NEEDs

If you are a woman that is already a mom or has the possibility of someday being a mom on her horizon here are a few things you can do to save yourself a lot of discomfort and indecision.

First, get clear on your values, your strengths, your needs and your interests. Instead of finding a *new* job or career, maybe you can figure out how to craft your current path meet you in the middle.

The first step to doing this clarifying your strengths, and values, so you can articulate where you want to go and what you need — essentially be clear about your hopes for the future.

In my case, looking back, when it comes to working in a hotel, even as the General Manager, the job is terribly flexible and actually a pretty awesome job for a family person (mom or dad). In reality, I likely would have been very happy in the role for a time (or a long-time), but I gave it up because I didn’t actually understand what I wanted or needed.

What do you value? Time? Healthy Food? Being together?

I should-ed all over myself!

Stop Should-ing on Yourself

One of the beauties of life is that for the most part we actually have a lot of discretion to choose what we do and when. Sure, we may say I ‘HAVE’ to get X done by tomorrow, but really we chose to get X done because we value the outcome or the outcome is directly linked to something we value.

That said, often when we get stuck or that dreaded anxiousness or pressure in our chest when we think of something we need to do, it’s often because it’s something that we think we *need* to do to be a good employee, a good friend, a good mom, a good human, but it’s not really something we value.

The question is, do we really value the activity and the outcome?

Perhaps you just said YES to baking 120 cupcakes for the bakesale at your kids school, because you couldn’t say “no” and you think that is what “good” moms do. Now you feel an insane pressure, because you also have a report to do for work, need to take the dog to the vet and who knows what else.

You suddenly spiral into insane evil mom, snapping at her kids, honking at the cars around you and generally feeling like the world is caving in on you. There is so much going on and it’s all out of your control.

What would happen if you stepped back, outside of yourself and looked at this a couple different ways?

OPTIONS

What are your options?

  1. You could call up the school and say you can’t deliver on the cupcakes.
  2. You could go buy 120 cupcakes and save yourself some time.
  3. You could call up your boss, explain that you are excited to bake 120 cupcakes for your kids school, ask for a 24-hour extension and promise to bring cupcakes to the office.
  4. You could call up the vet and see if you can reschedule/drop off the dog earlier or ask a neighbor to help.
  5. You could take a deep breath and say, I love baking (so I said yes), I’ve got my report mostly finished, I only need to do X, Y and Z.
  6. There are probably some other options I didn’t list.

Values

The point is, if you can step back from your situation and identify how your values line up with your life. Go through your day and your life and see where you can replace “I should” with I value” or where you can replace “I have to” with “I choose to.”

I shoulds are what OTHER people value, not you. I HAVE TO is a phrase that removes your personal agency.

If you can happily swap in “I value” or “I choose to” you are on the right track. If you cannot — you’ve just made a super important insight into what in your life may be holding you back. Knowing what you value makes it a heck of a lot easier to say no without guilt and to set your boundaries.

If you want to do more work on values. Deep work on values, I suggest working with a coach or reading Brene Brown’s book The Gift of Imperfection. Personally, I’ve benefited from both!

Strengths

Another big part of this puzzle is your strengths.

Many things that people ask us to do or that we think are easy to do, somehow tie back into our natural talents and strengths.

Maybe you always get asked to bake, because people know you love to bake, you enjoy baking, and you are GOOD at it. Maybe it’s EASY for you and you value good, healthy, from scratch cooking.

Maybe you always get asked to write reports, because you write good reports. You understand all the components, you make them easy to read, you structure things correctly, but you hate it.

Maybe you actually despise writing reports, but you value clear communication and a job done well, so you follow directions and you just happen to be a good writer. Maybe it takes you five times as long to write a report as it would for you to write a creative essay.

Maybe you hate the idea of someone else buying store bought cupcakes, but in reality your peace of mind and your ability to focus on the report for work is of more importance. Will the kids really care where the cupcakes came from? Or will they care more about the money the cupcakes raised to do X?

If you understand your strengths, you can start to understand why you excel in certain areas, and how even a strength in one area, can bolster your success in another. Integrate your strengths with your values and you start to see why some things bring you joy and others ulcers.

With my clients I use the Clifton Strengths 2.0. You need to buy a new book or Kindle to get the code to take the online test.

Gratitude

Another super powerful trick is to work your gratitude practice into the application of your values and strengths.

→ Maybe you can find more joy in writing a report if you understand that you value clear communication and you see that you can write good reports.

→ Maybe you can say “no” to baking 120 cupcakes and be grateful that someone else said yes, even if their cupcakes won’t be as good as yours.

→ Maybe you can do both and not be stressed, if you recognize that you made a CHOICE that is aligned with your values and your strengths; and that you are super grateful to have work you love and kids to bake cupcakes for….

The Magic of Gratitude

Gratitude gets a lot of play in the media, because there really is something to the “science of gratitude.” However, genuine gratitude is a real challenge to muster up when we feel we “should be grateful” and yet all we feel is the pressure of the “shoulds” and “have tos.”

Which leads to another distinction — there is a big difference between “being grateful” and “practicing gratitude.” I can sit here all day and say I am “grateful for this and grateful for that.” I am grateful I have food when others don’t, I am grateful I have a new car, I am grateful, I am grateful…

Having and practicing gratitude goes above and beyond the words. It’s a visceral experience in which are hearts are full and we get there by being clear on what we need, what we value, and in stopping to slow down and savor.

Practicing gratitude can look like slowing down as we walk down the front path, enjoying the warmth of sunshine, and the opportunity to take cupcakes to our kid’s school fundraiser. Recognizing that we made a choice and that we love contributing to something good.

Practicing gratitude can also be as simple as stopping to smile, say hello, holding open the door for someone carrying a plate of cupcakes. In this moment you can be grateful that you had an opportunity to for a moment, ease someone else’s path with a smile and a kind gesture.

My passion is helping moms to say ‘Goodbye” to stress and “Hello” to a more fullfilling life!

Three Good Things

Before I go to bed at night, I personally really love the practice of gratitude that asks me to think of three good things that I contributed to during the day. These “things” can be big or tiny, the key is that I think of how I participated in the good.

Maybe I helped my daughter draw shoes on her princess. Maybe I thank the technician for a job well-done. Maybe I took some time for myself to enjoy my coffee in the sun or to do a yoga class.

My two favorite side-effects of doing gratitude this way is that by thinking about how I contributed to what I am grateful for, is that it really sticks with me and gives vibe of positivity before bed. What’s more, when I wake up in the morning and I start to think about my day, one of the first things that pops into my mind, is the good from yesterday.

It’s like the magic elixir I need to start my day off with a smile!

The Original Book on Three Good Things and why it works.

What does this have to do with CHOICES we Make to BE Moms?

EVERYTHING!

Think about where you are today and where you want to be in 3, 5 or 10 years. What are you currently doing that is lined up with your values? What might you want to change? What might you want to keep the same?

Where do you feel stuck because of a miss-alignment of values and or strengths? Where do you have alignment that could benefit from the practice of gratitude?

How could you craft the job you have today, to better match the life you choose to live as a mother?

How can you use this new self knowledge, to find deeper meaning and a sense of satisfaction and purpose in your life today?

What Next

Now, if you discover that in spite of clarifying your values, and your strengths, that even when you practice gratitude, your particular job or line of work, remains out of alignment?

Another great survey is the Four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin. If you find you *know* what you should be doing, but you have trouble taking action, understanding your tendencies may help you to complete the picture.

I am a “Obliger.” What are you?

Values, strengths, needs, gratitude, tendencies. Wow that is a lot. But what it makes is a foundation.

A solid foundation to explore what you want to build.

If you are not happy at work, you’ve got a good foundation to talk to your boss (even if that is YOU) about what you need in a job to be happy and about where you would like to go. Ideally, you can come into this meeting with a few constructive ideas to change your current work to better match your needs.

If you are happy with work, but want to be more intentional about your future, you again have built a solid foundation to set your vision.  

Maybe you read this piece not really knowing where you are or what is out of sync in your life. If that’s the case, maybe knowing your values and strengths has reminded you of a dream that you’d set aside, or decided wasn’t for you. Maybe now you want to bring this dream back to life or create a new one for the future.

Whatever you want to do, the underlying message in this piece is that it is TOTALLY POSSIBLE for YOU as a mom to craft a job and a life that fits what you need and value. Once you’ve got your solid foundation laid, you can explore building whatever you want in this life!

Reality for Mothers in our World Today

As women we do live, as they say, in the best of times and the worst of times. Doors and opportunities continue to open to us and to our daughters that couldn’t be enjoyed by previous generations. At the same time, we deal with new stresses, new pressures, feelings of isolation and the belief that we have to do it all and do it alone.

The truth is that no one has to do it alone and all humans belong. And that in sharing our challenges, we can find a sense of relief and sisterhood.

If you can honor your strengths and values, if you can be vulnerable enough to share your dreams and your challenges, you open the door for another woman to do the same, and in it all we can share our burdens and build a new future that honors our values and respects our choices as women and as mothers.

As a career coach, I lean on the field of positive psychology and human flourishing, to help my clients flourish. What’s more, I know that each woman that I help, takes her joy and flourishing out into her community, creating that beautiful butterfly effect that truly has the power to change the world.

So ladies, whether you chose to be a mom or not, do what you value, know your strengths, and understand your choices.

Be powerful.

When was the first time you consciously said yes or no to a career path or job because you knew you wanted to be a mom?

The first time I distinctly remember making a career choice based on my desire to be a mom was in late 2004 (I was 26). Newly engaged, I started to think about what my life would look like as a mom and a wife.

At the time I had a job I enjoyed working for a boss I loved; however, I knew that to remain happy I needed to continue to move up the ladder. In my current role as Front Office & Guest Services Manager, my destination job was as General Manager of a hotel.

All the GMs that I knew were men, but that hadn’t previously entered into my calculations. I’d started in my first hotel job at 18 and by age 22 I’d already created and managed a Guest Services department of Bellmen and Valets, most of whom were older than me and all of whom were male.

I’d chosen hotel life, because I am a “people first” kind of person; I loved the hands on management of staff, and I loved facilitating an environment in which our guests knew they were important, valued and welcome in “our home.”

What Makes a Family Friendly WorkPlace?

Not long after I’d put on my engagement ring; I received a call from my Night Auditor. They’d had a fire alarm and some issues closing accounts. At 1 AM I found myself crawling out of bed in the cold of Colorado winter night (thankfully no snow) to head into the hotel and get things sorted out.

By the time we finished up it was 4 AM and I had to be back at 7AM to greet a group of British Tourists, so I stayed a work (a perk of hotels is beds are easy to find). The more time I spent with my fiance and his 9 to 5 job, and suddenly the flexibility and perks of hotel life that I’d loved as a young single, didn’t seem to me like a good job for a mom and wife.

For better or worse, I quit, heading back to school to get a masters degree and with hopes I’d figure out another path. Instead, I faced a good 6 years of indecision followed by several more years of figuring it all out, restarting and stopping several careers, and getting divorced. along the way.

If only I’d known what I know now back then, I probably would have actually been quite happy to stay at the hotel. In this it wasn’t my job that was out of alignment, but my ideas about what family life should look like.

Core Values are Crucial

On one hand, I was smart to listen to my gut, when she told me that certain things were not aligned with my values. On the flipside, what I didn’t know was that many of my values were societal “I shoulds” and not actually my personal core values.

Another mistake I made, is that I thought I had to figure this all out on my own; had I sat down and had an honest chat with my GM (the proud dad of three kids) I might of started to understand my internal conflicts in a different light, but I didn’t.

Ultimately, I made big decisions based on what I thought I should be doing, verses on what I valued.

KNOWING YOUR STRENGTHS HELPS YOU UNDERSTAND YOUR NEEDS

Not only was I operating on miss-aligned values, I didn’t actually understand why I was good at certain things and why other things were always a push, nor did I understand what I really wanted out of a job, which was flexibility.

Like many “smart” people, I attribute my success to my smarts and hard work, not the subtleties of the different activities.  And, when I got bored at work, I immediately started to lose interest.

I’d been successful in the hotel biz, because my core strengths are strategy, adaptability, and communication. I have high empathy and appreciate a job well done. I am also high on input and learning, which means I need to variety (good in a hotel), and the opportunity to continually learn (hence my rapid movement from PBX operator to management).

What I needed in a job was that ability to continually grow, learn and contribute to strategy, while also honoring my personal needs for healthy living (fitness), and family time. If I’d been honest with my GM about these things, I am sure we could have figured out how to make it work. He was that kind of guy.

Determine Your Clifton Strengths 2.0 (Buy a new book or Kindle to get the code to take the online test)

Job Crafting: Understand and Voice Your NEEDs

If you are a woman that is already a mom or has the possibility of someday being a mom on her horizon here are a few things you can do to save yourself a lot of discomfort and indecision.

First, get clear on your values, your strengths, your needs and your interests. Instead of finding a *new* job or career, maybe you can figure out how to craft your current path meet you in the middle.

The first step to doing this clarifying your strengths, and values, so you can articulate where you want to go and what you need — essentially be clear about your hopes for the future.

In my case, looking back, when it comes to working in a hotel, even as the General Manager, the job is terribly flexible and actually a pretty awesome job for a family person (mom or dad). In reality, I likely would have been very happy in the role for a time (or a long-time), but I gave it up because I didn’t actually understand what I wanted or needed.

I should-ed all over myself!

Stop Should-ing on Yourself

One of the beauties of life is that for the most part we actually have a lot of discretion to choose what we do and when. Sure, we may say I ‘HAVE’ to get X done by tomorrow, but really we chose to get X done because we value the outcome or the outcome is directly linked to something we value.

That said, often when we get stuck or that dreaded anxiousness or pressure in our chest when we think of something we need to do, it’s often because it’s something that we think we *need* to do to be a good employee, a good friend, a good mom, a good human, but it’s not really something we value.

The question is, do we really value the activity and the outcome?

Perhaps you just said YES to baking 120 cupcakes for the bakesale at your kids school, because you couldn’t say “no” and you think that is what “good” moms do. Now you feel an insane pressure, because you also have a report to do for work, need to take the dog to the vet and who knows what else.

You suddenly spiral into insane evil mom, snapping at her kids, honking at the cars around you and generally feeling like the world is caving in on you. There is so much going on and it’s all out of your control.

What would happen if you stepped back, outside of yourself and looked at this a couple different ways?

OPTIONS

What are your options?

  1. You could call up the school and say you can’t deliver on the cupcakes.
  2. You could go buy 120 cupcakes and save yourself some time.
  3. You could call up your boss, explain that you are excited to bake 120 cupcakes for your kids school, ask for a 24-hour extension and promise to bring cupcakes to the office.
  4. You could call up the vet and see if you can reschedule/drop off the dog earlier or ask a neighbor to help.
  5. You could take a deep breath and say, I love baking (so I said yes), I’ve got my report mostly finished, I only need to do X, Y and Z.
  6. There are probably some other options I didn’t list.

Values

The point is, if you can step back from your situation and identify how your values line up with your life. Go through your day and your life and see where you can replace “I should” with I value” or where you can replace “I have to” with “I choose to.”

I shoulds are what OTHER people value, not you. I HAVE TO is a phrase that removes your personal agency.

If you can happily swap in “I value” or “I choose to” you are on the right track. If you cannot — you’ve just made a super important insight into what in your life may be holding you back. Knowing what you value makes it a heck of a lot easier to say no without guilt and to set your boundaries.

If you want to do more work on values. Deep work on values, I suggest working with a coach or reading Brene Brown’s book The Gift of Imperfection. Personally, I’ve benefited from both!

Strengths

Another big part of this puzzle is your strengths.

Many things that people ask us to do or that we think are easy to do, somehow tie back into our natural talents and strengths.

Maybe you always get asked to bake, because people know you love to bake, you enjoy baking, and you are GOOD at it. Maybe it’s EASY for you and you value good, healthy, from scratch cooking.

Maybe you always get asked to write reports, because you write good reports. You understand all the components, you make them easy to read, you structure things correctly, but you hate it.

Maybe you actually despise writing reports, but you value clear communication and a job done well, so you follow directions and you just happen to be a good writer. Maybe it takes you five times as long to write a report as it would for you to write a creative essay.

Maybe you hate the idea of someone else buying store bought cupcakes, but in reality your peace of mind and your ability to focus on the report for work is of more importance. Will the kids really care where the cupcakes came from? Or will they care more about the money the cupcakes raised to do X?

If you understand your strengths, you can start to understand why you excel in certain areas, and how even a strength in one area, can bolster your success in another. Integrate your strengths with your values and you start to see why some things bring you joy and others ulcers.

With my clients I use the Clifton Strengths 2.0. You need to buy a new book or Kindle to get the code to take the online test.

Gratitude

Another super powerful trick is to work your gratitude practice into the application of your values and strengths.

→ Maybe you can find more joy in writing a report if you understand that you value clear communication and you see that you can write good reports.

→ Maybe you can say “no” to baking 120 cupcakes and be grateful that someone else said yes, even if their cupcakes won’t be as good as yours.

→ Maybe you can do both and not be stressed, if you recognize that you made a CHOICE that is aligned with your values and your strengths; and that you are super grateful to have work you love and kids to bake cupcakes for….

The Magic of Gratitude

Gratitude gets a lot of play in the media, because there really is something to the “science of gratitude.” However, genuine gratitude is a real challenge to muster up when we feel we “should be grateful” and yet all we feel is the pressure of the “shoulds” and “have tos.”

Which leads to another distinction — there is a big difference between “being grateful” and “practicing gratitude.” I can sit here all day and say I am “grateful for this and grateful for that.” I am grateful I have food when others don’t, I am grateful I have a new car, I am grateful, I am grateful…

Having and practicing gratitude goes above and beyond the words. It’s a visceral experience in which are hearts are full and we get there by being clear on what we need, what we value, and in stopping to slow down and savor.

Practicing gratitude can look like slowing down as we walk down the front path, enjoying the warmth of sunshine, and the opportunity to take cupcakes to our kid’s school fundraiser. Recognizing that we made a choice and that we love contributing to something good.

Practicing gratitude can also be as simple as stopping to smile, say hello, holding open the door for someone carrying a plate of cupcakes. In this moment you can be grateful that you had an opportunity to for a moment, ease someone else’s path with a smile and a kind gesture.

Three Good Things

Before I go to bed at night, I personally really love the practice of gratitude that asks me to think of three good things that I contributed to during the day. These “things” can be big or tiny, the key is that I think of how I participated in the good.

Maybe I helped my daughter draw shoes on her princess. Maybe I thank the technician for a job well-done. Maybe I took some time for myself to enjoy my coffee in the sun or to do a yoga class.

My two favorite side-effects of doing gratitude this way is that by thinking about how I contributed to what I am grateful for, is that it really sticks with me and gives vibe of positivity before bed. What’s more, when I wake up in the morning and I start to think about my day, one of the first things that pops into my mind, is the good from yesterday.

It’s like the magic elixir I need to start my day off with a smile!

The Original Book on Three Good Things and why it works.

What does this have to do with CHOICES we Make to BE Moms?

EVERYTHING!

Think about where you are today and where you want to be in 3, 5 or 10 years. What are you currently doing that is lined up with your values? What might you want to change? What might you want to keep the same?

Where do you feel stuck because of a miss-alignment of values and or strengths? Where do you have alignment that could benefit from the practice of gratitude?

How could you craft the job you have today, to better match the life you choose to live as a mother?

How can you use this new self knowledge, to find deeper meaning and a sense of satisfaction and purpose in your life today?

What Next

Now, if you discover that in spite of clarifying your values, and your strengths, that even when you practice gratitude, your particular job or line of work, remains out of alignment?

Another great survey is the Four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin. If you find you *know* what you should be doing, but you have trouble taking action, understanding your tendencies may help you to complete the picture.

I am a “Obliger.” What are you?

Values, strengths, needs, gratitude, tendencies. Wow that is a lot. But what it makes is a foundation.

A solid foundation to explore what you want to build.

If you are not happy at work, you’ve got a good foundation to talk to your boss (even if that is YOU) about what you need in a job to be happy and about where you would like to go. Ideally, you can come into this meeting with a few constructive ideas to change your current work to better match your needs.

If you are happy with work, but want to be more intentional about your future, you again have built a solid foundation to set your vision.  

Maybe you read this piece not really knowing where you are or what is out of sync in your life. If that’s the case, maybe knowing your values and strengths has reminded you of a dream that you’d set aside, or decided wasn’t for you. Maybe now you want to bring this dream back to life or create a new one for the future.

Whatever you want to do, the underlying message in this piece is that it is TOTALLY POSSIBLE for YOU as a mom to craft a job and a life that fits what you need and value. Once you’ve got your solid foundation laid, you can explore building whatever you want in this life!

Reality for Mothers in our World Today

As women we do live, as they say, in the best of times and the worst of times. Doors and opportunities continue to open to us and to our daughters that couldn’t be enjoyed by previous generations. At the same time, we deal with new stresses, new pressures, feelings of isolation and the belief that we have to do it all and do it alone.

The truth is that no one has to do it alone and all humans belong. And that in sharing our challenges, we can find a sense of relief and sisterhood.

If you can honor your strengths and values, if you can be vulnerable enough to share your dreams and your challenges, you open the door for another woman to do the same, and in it all we can share our burdens and build a new future that honors our values and respects our choices as women and as mothers.

As a career coach, I lean on the field of positive psychology and human flourishing, to help my clients flourish. What’s more, I know that each woman that I help, takes her joy and flourishing out into her community, creating that beautiful butterfly effect that truly has the power to change the world.

So ladies, whether you chose to be a mom or not, do what you value, know your strengths, and understand your choices.

Be powerful.

Be you.


Be you.

How to Write a Resume like a Professional

How to Write a Resume like a Professional

This article is a recipe for how to reach your ideal job goal in the shortest amount of time.

In this article we will cover:

  • What Goes in a Resume
  • Job Targeting
  • Performance Profiles
  • Writing to Bots
  • Formatting
  • Do I really *need* a resume?
  • Career Coaches & Resume Writers
  • Templates

What Goes in a Resume

You may be an expert in your field, newly graduated, full of amazing ideas or the top sales professional on your team, you know how to get your job done, but you still don’t know what to put in your resume.

If this is you — you are not alone. I get messages all the time: “Help me! I don’t know what to put in my resume! What should I write in my resume? How do I highlight my achievements? What should I put for my skills? What? What? What?

If you find yourself, panicked, and at a loss the first thing you might do is to write down a few lists:

List 1: Your Values — what do you value and how does this show up in your work? Are you timely? A stickler for details? Do you think out of the box? Do you listen deeply? What do you VALUE?

To learn more about your values do this exercise on Core Values.

In the tool box look Core Values & Via Character Survey

List 2: Your Strengths — what do you really rock? What do you do really well? What kinds of problems do people come to you with? What can you do that is easy for you and hard for other people? What are your STRENGTHS?

To learn more about your Strengths take the Strengths Finder 2.0

Amazon affiliate link: make sure to buy a new book/kindle for online test code.

List 3: Your Interests — what do you enjoy? What are you doing when you find that perfect mix of challenge and pleasure? What activities let you get caught in a state of flow? What kind of problems do you love to research, solve or explore? What are your INTERESTS?

List 4: Your Needs — these might be financial (your salary and benefits), they might be your work environment (office, flexible, remote, requires travel, etc.), they might be intellectual or physical. What do you NEED from your job?

Not sure about your needs? Do this Wheel of Life Exercise.

Now find 3 to 5 ideal job postings on the Internet, go ahead and print them off and highlight all the skills, experiences, qualifications, tasks, job requirements and benefits that show up in the job descriptions. Circle the ones that also show up on one of your lists above.

Sketch out Your Resume

Your resume will have approximately 5 different sections:

  • Performance Profile
  • Key Skills & Experiences/Key Accomplishments
  • Work Experience
  • Education/Certifications
  • Technologies/Interests/Coursework

Your Performance Profile (see below) will match your values, strengths, unique skills, achievements and needs/interests to that of the employer.

Your Key Skills & Experiences functions to confirm for the employer that you can do all the required tasks have the necessary knowledge, the soft skills, the hard skills, the language skills or the technologies to get the job done.

Your Work Experience will demonstrate what you enjoy, what you have done, where you’ve learned or accomplished something crucial; and how this has played out in your previous and current employment.

If you’ve only got volunteer work or school projects, go ahead and list those instead, figure out what ties into your job search and highlight those details. Name the section “Relevant Experience” instead of “Work Experience.”

Your Education/Certifications shows that you’ve got the technical requirements for the job. Often the “education” requirement can be replaced by “equivalent work experience.” Legal Certifications tend to be less flexible (licenses, etcetera), but you may get away with showing you are studying/preparing to get them by X date.

Recent graduates list education right after the performance profile, experienced employees list it at the end of the resume.

Technologies and Interests: some resumes list hobbies and interests, or additional technologies, which is technically a waste of space UNLESS your hobbies and interests, or technologies relate directly back to the job you seek.

A clever way to use this section is to incorporate technologies or subject matter areas listed in a job description that you are still earning or to show the breadth of your experience, but which you do not feel comfortable listing under your “key skills and experiences.”

Relevant

When deciding which accomplishment stories, which metrics, which achievements, which skills and experiences to include on your resume, ask yourself: Is this relevant to the job I seek? Is this something that is required? Is this something that I enjoy doing and want to do more of? If the answer is yes, work it into your resume.

Just because you CAN or DID do something doesn’t mean it is relevant or wise to include it on your resume. Think of what an employer NEEDs to know to hire you: What kind of person do they need? What skills? What personality strengths? Make sure you answer these questions and don’t worry about leaving out details that are irrelevant.

Job Targeting

How to write a resume based on the job description:

Many job seekers want to cry when they learn that you most likely will not get hired by submitting the same resume to every job application.

Unfortunately, when 200+ resumes often get submitted to many job postings, the best way to ensure your resume gets pulled is not only to write a killer resume but then to also tailor it to each and every individual job description.

There are a few short-cuts that you can take to make this process easier and less painful.

Tip #1:

The first time you write your resume, write it so that it targets your top three job postings. This will help to ensure that you get the most important requirements, skills, and experiences in your resume and that it is well formatted for the work you seek. And you can use it to apply to each of these three jobs.

Tip #2:

Use my favorite resume scanning tool CVScan to re-match your resume to each job description. Your goal is to have a minimum 80% match; when I write resumes for clients I aim for greater than a 90% match.

When using CVScan take and copy both your current resume and the new job listing into the online application. Make note of the words and phrases CVScan highlights as red; when you update your resume to match the new job description, make sure to get these words into the first half of your resume. Rescan.

Tip #3:

When applying for jobs, write the job title EXACTLY as named in the job posting on the top of your resume above your performance profile. This will assure the bot and the hiring human that you actually want the job for which you’ve just submitted an application.

Note the difference in these titles:

PERFORMANCE PROFILE: Business Analyst

PERFORMANCE PROFILE: Business Process Analyst

PERFORMANCE PROFILE: IS Business Analyst/Relationship Manager

PERFORMANCE PROFILE: Test Analyst

Let’s say you submit an application for the Relationship Manager position above with a resume titled “Test Analyst,” maybe the skills required for these jobs are similar, but quality assurance tests are different from customer relationships and the hiring manager will immediately doubt your fit.

Take 30 seconds to update your resume and make sure the correct job title is on the resume header.

Tip #4

The first thing that often happens once you start applying to multiple jobs and customizing your resume to each one, is that you quickly lose track of which resume went where. This can result in an embarrassing conversation down the road.

To avoid this do two things: Save each resume using your Last Name or Initials plus the company name and the date you applied.

For example: Rakoto.HR Costco.15.04.2019

And then use a spreadsheet that tracks each job, resume title, date applied and any notes. Here is a link to an excellent online job tracking spreadsheet (no need to reinvent the wheel).

Performance Profiles

If you are looking to learn how to write a resume objective or how to write a resume professional summary, I recommend that you start thinking instead about your “performance profile.” Who are you as a professional and what do you offer an employer?

Your Performance Profile is easily the most important part of your resume. Your performance profile is a proactive and future-forward replacement of the “objective” and sometimes called a “professional” or “power” summary section.

Your “performance profile” tells an employer what you can do, it speaks to your values and your strengths, it aligns your goals with that of your employer and ties your past achievements into your future accomplishments. It shows how you will perform on the job.

Every kickass resume starts with a performance profile. Every. Single. One.

The performance profile is built upon a solid professional narrative. It is versatile, you can use it for your LinkedIn summary, as an elevator pitch and when you are networking! Write it once, but then modify the language slightly to match the keywords and phrases that show up in each individual job posting.

Your performance profile should be uniquely yours. It should not sound like a job description; you can even write it in the first person. Resumes that incorporate the first person are what we call “human-voiced resumes” and when done well they are highly effective.

If you are new to the “human-voiced resume” consider writing your performance profile in first person and the remainder of your resume in the third person.

Some recruiters advise against human voiced resumes and prefer robotic sounding text; my take on this is that if the recruiter wants to hire a robot, he should employ a robot; if he wants to hire a human, hire a human! I’ve used human-voiced resumes with clients since 2014 and since 2004 for myself!

Digital Marketing Executive Sample

With a growing passion for mission-driven technologies; I continue to value data inspired, and human-driven product design. In this, I anticipate working with a diverse set of high-level thinkers to collaborate and creatively solve business and user problems. Leveraging my experience to guide teams to generate brilliant and disruptive digital experiences around an organization’s core mission — the end goal — facilitating brands’ seamless and positive integration into people’s lives.

Software Developer Sample

Personable Senior Developer with twenty plus years of progressive experience, I delight in stuff that works. Committed to continuous professional development and learning: the pleasure is in doing the work, and in seeing the results. I enjoy collaborating with end users and maintaining open lines of communication with all stakeholders. Adept with requirements, solutions, coding, and communicating meaningful results, I am particularly enjoy testing and quality assurance.

Customer Relationship & Sales Manager

As a charismatic and results-oriented sales professional, I delight in solving customer problems with the best product or service. An early adopter of anything tech,  I am on top of current trends and I anticipate continuing to deepen my knowledge. I understand the importance of listening skills and customer empathy in finding innovative solutions. I look forward to contributing to a positive team atmosphere.

How to write a resume that will impress a bot

This isn’t actually a joke. Nearly all resumes get scanned by ATS (Automatic Tracking Software) before going to an actual human being. You need to write a resume that impresses both the bot and the human.

One of the most important reasons NOT to use a cutesy or unique or stylish or trendy resume template is that many of these templates are NOT bot-friendly. For the same reason, avoid using your mad design skills to create image boxes and fixed tables or include another image on your resume.

These things cannot be read by the BOT!

To write a bot-friendly resume you should do the following:

  • Create your resume in a format that allows all of your text to be read in the order of appearance on your page and in a single cohesive text box; for this reason avoid putting your name and contact info in a Header, instead create your first-page header in the body of your document. Multiple text boxes on a single page can result in gibberish and missed text when scanned.
  • Print off or copy the text of 3 to 5 job listings; now highlight the keywords and phrases used in each description and make sure to use these in your resume. Your jargon should match the jargon the bot is scanning for! This is a crucial reason you need to modify your resume for EACH job.
  • The keywords, activities, and requirements listed in a specific job description should appear in the first half the resume. If you want to create interest with synonyms and other technical terms, do so in the second half of your resume. Bots weight the first part of your resume.
  • If specific certificates or educational requirements are a must in the job description, make sure you list your education using the same language in the job description.

If you don’t believe me or someone has told you otherwise (so many resume writers are PIMPING Canva resumes), here is another article that discusses how ATS software reads (or doesn’t read) your resume. If you want to get hired you gotta pay attention to these details!

How to format a resume and get noticed

Writing a resume is hard. It sucks to dive in and dig deep, recalling all the things in our past and figuring out what is the most important or crucial items to list on our resume.

Our biggest fear is that we will come across sounding boring, robotic and just not-good-enough. Selecting a sexy resume template seems like an easy and clever fix to the resume doldrums, but I assure it is NOT.

Writing a resume is uncomfortable, so it’s really easy to lost searching out the perfect format. All the online templates created by apps like CANVA make it easy to put too much emphasis on the formatting and forget that it’s the content that really counts.

Yes, your resume needs to be readable and easy on the eyes, but unless you work in graphic design, you are not being hired for your design skills, the content of your resume is more important than a sexy template. And, as we discussed in the previous section you need to address the BOT!

To get hired, spend most of your time working to ensure the content of your resume is relevant, interesting, and that it tells a positive story about what you can do. Use your words and your experiences to stand out, not some fancy type and trendy color combos.

Your resume should look good, but it is the story it tells that people will remember and that will get you hired.

If you’ve got 6 hours, put 3 of them into writing your Performance Profile, 2 into writing the resume content and 1 into making sure the format looks good and that the grammar is correct.

Design DOES Matter: Top Formatting Mistakes to Avoid

That said, the design does matter. For this reason, I’ve shared a few simple, clean templates that you can download and use or modify.

The easiest to make mistakes involve fonts, colors, spacing, borders and the use of image boxes, some tables, and columns (often used with skill ranking systems).

Let’s look at these in detail.

Type Font and Font Color:

If you use an application to create your resume, choose common fonts, such as Arial, Verdana, Times New Roman or Helvetica. These fonts are common because they can be read by all types and ages of computer systems.

Article on type fonts: If you don’t believe me, go to MIT for proof!

You and your hiring manager will likely NOT be using the same type of computer or software; so, to make sure your resume can be read use a common type font and save your resume as a PDF.

When you select your font color (and your backgrounds) take time to think about what it will look like printed in Greyscale. You might format your resume to be bright and cheery, but trust me, a recruiter who prints off 100s of resumes a day won’t be investing in using her color ink to print YOUR resume.

If you want to add variety to your resume, you can use shades of blue or grey fonts that won’t change a lot on different systems. Beware of greens and red or orange as what looks pretty on your screen might look like puke or poop on another. Trust me, I’ve seen it!

Lastly, make sure your resume still looks good and is readable if printed in black and white!

Spacing & Borders

Resumes need to be readable and spacing issues can be awkward. Keep your borders reasonable (don’t go under ¾ inches (0.75) or 1.5 cm on the sides or ½ inch (0.5) or 0.5 cm on the top and bottom.

Double check that line spacing, period spacing (one), page pagination, and all that jazz is consistent and looks good. If you use block formatting make sure that awkward spaces don’t appear in your blocks.

If your resume goes onto two or three pages (for those of you in very technical fields or with 15+ years of experience) make sure your name and the page number are in the header of the additional pages.

Borders

In general, avoid using a border on your resume; different systems produce different results and it might be that your border gets off centered or moves over your header text or drops onto an additional unnecessary page.

Image Boxes, Tables & Columns

Image boxes cannot be read by ATS systems period. Don’t use any part of your resume from your name to any details in an image box or logo. The information will be lost.

Tables:

If you use MSWord, GoogleDocs or Pages to create a hidden table to list skills this is a good way to get extra content in your resume. Do this.

If you use a design template like Canva to create a table it is HIGHLY likely that all or part of your table may be missed by ATS software. Don’t do it!

Hitting Save As > PDF.

As with everything the best way to ensure your PDF lands in the format that you sent it in, is to save it as a PDF. All current versions of Word, Pages and GoogleDocs Allo

Resumes & Linkedin: Are Resumes Still Important?

With the advent of online portfolios, LinkedIn and other forms of social proof, sometimes a resume may seem like overkill; however, resumes ARE not DEAD.

Regardless of the sad number of dead trees involved, if I’ve got to compare 20 or 200 hundred candidates and share them with my colleagues, it’s a heck of a lot easier to share a stack of printed resumes than 200 links, which may all have different amounts of information and load time.

Write a resume that stands out and have it at the ready, ready to share if someone asks for it in both print and PDF form. And then have another version in Word, GoogleDocs or Pages that you can quickly modify to fit a particular job posting.

Luck comes from preparation, if you are not prepared, you’ll never be lucky!

Career Coaches & Resume Writers: Are they worth it?

The number one reason you might hire a resume writer and or career coach is to reach your goal in the shortest amount of time.

The second reason you might hire a resume writer and or career coach is to find work that meets not your minimum requirements but your ideal wish list.

And the BEST reason to hire a career coach and resume writer is to learn the skills and self-knowledge that will ensure you are on the right path for long-term career satisfaction and success.

Resume writing and job search skills are life-skills, the earlier you learn them, the better off you will be!

How to Pick a Career Coach or Resume Writer

First, I’d check out their LinkedIn profile and recommendations. Just because someone has a website and even testimonials doesn’t make them legit. In this day and age, it’s difficult to “hoax” your LinkedIn.

If your ideal coach or resume writer has nailed her LinkedIn, she can likely help you too. If she’s got reviews (and recent ones) that is also a good sign.

Referrals are another great way to find good writers and coaches, so if you’ve got friends that have just found new jobs, inquire if they got any help!

Writing a good resume takes time and thought. Any service that offers you a 24-hour resume return and for CHEAP is likely just going to play with your formatting and keywords. There is no way that anyone can get to know you and write an effective resume in that amount of time.

Career Coaching also takes time, so anyone promising you a quick fix, may not know what he or she is doing. Take the time and invest in your future. $200 or $500 spent today, is nothing when you consider how much it may increase your future income.

I recently coached a young man expat for an interview with an American company. One of the subjects I coached him on was salary; thanks to my coaching he got more than double the salary he’d been thinking of asking for…which means my hourly fee of $125 had about a 320x return!

Can I buy a book instead?

If you want to BUY a book instead of hiring a professional the only book that I can recommend is Knock’em Dead Resumes (Amazon affiliate link). The best thing about this book is that he walks you through a detailed process of questioning and identification, very similar to what I do with my clients.

If you put the time into this book and do as the author says, you’ll get a good resume. If you find yourself or you don’t have the patience to follow all his steps, you might be better off hiring help!

What about Templates?

Yes, I get that you want to take the guessing out of formatting your resume. A top resume search term is “Fast & Reliable Templates,” but the trick is that there is no simple formula.

Many resume templates are super attractive, but for the most part, they are difficult to manipulate and customize for specific jobs and many, such as templates created in CANVA often cannot be read by ATS bots.

If you REALLY want a pretty resume, then do a traditional resume for submitting to jobs online and a general “pretty” one to print off and keep on hand for in-person networking.

You can also use a pretty PDF template if you know for certain that your resume is going directly into a hiring manager’s inbox. Just remember to respect the font and color recommendations I discussed above.

Two Templates Just for YOU

Basic One Page Chronological Resume — modify as you see fit!

Functional Resume for a Career Pivot or to hide a GAP — modify as you see fit!

BONUS

Some Tips for Specific Concerns:

  • How to write a resume as a freelancer: write a resume that supports targeting your ideal client and that highlights the skills you wish to focus on; if you’ve pivoted fields, make sure you’ve got a narrative that backs you up.
  • How to write a resume as a consultant: this will vary depending on your field, but focus on keeping it relevant and using accomplishment stories. Don’t just use action verbs or power words; show people what you do and what you are like to work with.
  • How to write a resume as a stay at home mom: Focus on your strengths and values; don’t discredit volunteer work, describe what you’ve done, learned, managed (going above and beyond titles) over the last few years. Use the language that shows up in job descriptions and show both your drive, your motivation and your understanding of what needs to get done. Your performance profile is your ticket to success — create an image of the professional you can be before they read the rest of the resume!
  • How to write a resume before graduation (and after): Make sure you align your values with those of your ideal employer. Instead of talking about “my goals” or what “I hope to get” show how your goals, skills, drive, ambition will allow you do succeed in a role and solve the employer’s problem — honor your goals but write to the employer’s.

In Conclusion

Your resume is one of the most important investments you can make in your future. You may feel uncomfortable and even annoyed that you’ve got to dig deep and do a good job, but if you want a job you love, you need to put some love into your resume!

Shortcuts and quick fixes, too much of a focus on design and not enough focus on your content will just send you barking up the wrong tree or getting ZERO call backs. Be intentional and thoughtful with your design, making sure that your resume is READABLE by all!

How to Succeed and Overcome the Fear of Failure

How to Succeed and Overcome the Fear of Failure

Let’s look at what it takes to design a career of purpose and freedom that delivers both fulfillment and allows you to create your own definition of success.

One of the most seemingly benign (or to some people annoying) and yet incredibly powerful questions that I ask of anyone struggling to find their direction is:

“If you could do anything and be assured success, what would you do?”

I get many different responses to this question.

Some people launch directly into their current path and goal. They’ve got an answer at the ready.


Some people pause, take a deep breath and launch into their dream vision, which they clearly desire and yet [currently] consider to be impossible.


Some people make an uncomfortable laugh and tell me something seemingly impractical, such as a desire to become Superman or be the first person to land on Mars.


Others give me a mixed story that hints towards their dreams and passions but is oddly undefined.


And some, you might be one, simply tell me they have no idea, they just want a good job with a nice work-life balance.

None of these replies qualify as the “right” answer, because there isn’t a single correct answer to this direction.

However, each response is telling, and as a career coach practitioner, it is sometimes the light in the person’s eyes, their choice of vocabulary, they way they make eye contact or avoid eye contact when they respond that is even more telling.

A Common Denominator

A common denominator in nearly all the replies, even the person who launches directly into their current goals, is that most people don’t really believe that they can do or achieve whatever they put their mind too.

Most adults qualify their goals based on what they’ve been taught is practical, logical, and safely achievable.

Society has led us to believe that a happy life is an easy life and that security is more desirable than risk and  that the people who dream big and succeed are simply LUCKY and that luck is not something that can be made or found, it just is.

10-Year Study on Lucky People

Happiness is not an Easy Life

And so, too many of us settle for a path of least resistance that meets our basic needs and that will supposedly deliver us happiness in the form of security, titles, and sufficient material wealth.

We are a “yes” culture that does as we’ve been told. We worry a lot about what we should or shouldn’t be doing or have or look like and then we wonder why, in our so called modern society, those of us living in countries ripe with freedom and success continue to see rising rates of depression and a culture that is terrified to fail.

And yet, life is not easy. Even those who succeed experience  pain and suffering in their lives. They lose loved ones, they fail, they get sick and sometimes they don’t want to get out of bed when the alarm goes off. Success and failure are both perfectly human.

At the same time, to feel courage you must also experience fear.

To win big, you must take a risk.

Happiness is not easy, hope itself requires that you’ve got a goal in mind that you are “hopeful” to achieve.

Hope itself even requires that you have a clear vision in mind that you know what you want and that you understand what you must do to achieve your goal, combined with the belief that you can make it happen.

So let me ask you this question and I want you to answer with HOPE:

If you could do anything and be assured success, what would you do? What is your desired life direction? Where do you really want to go? Who do you want to be?

Direction

What is “direction” and why is this question so telling? Direction gives us both purpose and inspiration, it helps us to prioritize what is good in our life and say no to the things that distract us or lead us down unhelpful paths.

Direction is a vision for who we are and who we hope to become. Many people have trouble with this question, because for so many years their dreams have been squashed, either by people in their lives or by their own fears and anxieties.

When a 40 year old answers the above question with “drinking cocktails on the beach” or “becoming an olympic gymnast” or anything else that is not grounded in reality, I hear in the response that this person is a bit lost and could benefit from finding her direction.

This person likely has a private dream or desire, but she is afraid. She is frozen. She thinks the effort or the money, the sacrifices or the special steps required to achieve this dream make it impossible. She lacks faith in herself and the universe and she fears what might happen is she tries and fails.

Fear

Humans are biologically programmed to be fearful, we are naturally inclined to display a negativity bias, to be watching for the lion or the leopard that might gobble us up around the next corner. However, in our daily lives, many of our fears are really “worse case scenarios” and statistically not likely to happen. Most of us don’t have lions in our backyards (except in Colorado, where I am from…ha!)

Our parents, our friends, our insurance agents and in particular our TV broadcasters set our daily programming to worry “what if.” We live in a society that conditions us to want everything and at the same time to give up before we start.

Why then do some people succeed? What makes a boss? I let you in on a little secret, the boss across the street or running that yoga studio or rapidly growing start-up  isn’t different from the rest of us in that she is invincible, perfect or that she lacks fear.

She is successful because she has faith in herself, she has hope and she has set her direction. She is aware of her fear, so aware that she identifies it and she sets a plan in place to step into that fear, finding her courage, making a plan, and forging ahead.

You cannot have courage without fear and vulnerability.

Permission

When we step into our fears and anxiety, when we push through to the otherside, we do risk failure, but at the same time we invite success.

John Lennon said, “Life is what happens when you are busy making plans.”

You can dream and plan all you like, but if you don’t take action, if you don’t pick a direction, life will pass you by.

But as John Lennon also said, “You’re just a human.”

So give yourself permission to be human. No one expects you to be Wonder Woman. You might make a mistake or drop a ball, but that’s okay. If you drop a ball, it means you are playing the game of life, not just sitting on the sidelines watching life go by.

Plan of Action

Which takes us to PLANNING and ACTION. If you’ve got a direction, if you’ve acknowledged your fears and given yourself permission to be human, then the next step to your success is to make a plan and take action. Even one tiny action per day can make a difference.

Baby steps lead to toddler steps lead to kid steps and so on. If you’ve got a dream, if you’ve got your direction, what steps can you take TODAY to make this a reality?

Whether you plan out your next ten years or your next 10 days — there are definitive small steps to take that will add-up and move you towards your goal.

Sometimes our direction or our overarching goal seems so big and complex that a useful trick is to work backwards. First identify where you’d like to be in 5 years (or 10 or 20!). Then identify where you might need to be with this goal in 3 years and then 2 years, working all the way back to where you stand with this goal today. Now that you’ve visualized your goal in reverse, you can lay out the ground work to move forward effectively.

What can you do today to move you towards this goal? Maybe it’s research, maybe it’s a phone call, maybe it’s signing up for a class or making a budget.

Now, what is one tiny thing you can do every day for the next 10 days, to move you in the right direction?

Reflection

An important part of achieving our goals and successfully moving in a direction that meets our hopes and desires, is taking the time to reflect and adjust. Indeed,  intentional living and cultivating long term life satisfaction doesn’t mean that you set your course and forge blindly ahead, never stopping to learn, listen or make adjustments. .

Note that I used the word reflect, not ruminate. You cannot change your past, but you can create your future. You can reflect on what is going right and what you could do better. You can learn from mistakes, but if you want to move forward to avoid wasting your time ruminating on your mistakes leave them in the past.

Reflection questions you might ask:

What have you done in the past that worked?

What might you do differently in the future?

What fears or anxieties continue to hold you up?

What have I done that has brought me the most joy/satisfaction/feelings of usefulness?

Am I living up to my vision for excellence?

Take the time to reflect. Even to meditate. And to rest.

Your Personal Compass

Remember that the direction — the path — you’ve chosen to follow is your path. And you can change your path. Perhaps you’ve spent the last three weeks or the last three weeks pursuing a particular path, but upon reflection you notice that you’ve changed or learned something new, maybe you need to modify your path and your direction.

That’s okay. That’s even good. Self-awareness, the permission to be human, intentional decision making are components of self-agency. Your path is yours. Set the direction that you want to go and define your own success.

Your success might be making enough money at a day job to travel wherever you wish on vacation. Your success might be to figure out how to raise your kids and work part-time or to be a stay-at-home-mom with no regrets. Your success might be to start your own business and never have kids, or to start that business in spite of your family obligations.

The Story of My Father the Artist

Every person is unique. Every direction is unique. What we all have in common is the desire to set our dreams in motion and make them happen. To step into our fears and to feel that rush of courage. To try or learn something new, to feel the progress and exprecience the progression in our life.

So, if you could do anything and be assured success, what would YOU do?

Please honor me with your hopes, as your advocate and your champion, I want to know. You can either comment below or email me, whatever you choose, tell me your answer!


If you want to know more about this subject and my story you can read “Who are you meant to be?” or my about page!

Are you LinkedIn LOST? Let’s get you FOUND!

Are you LinkedIn LOST? Let’s get you FOUND!

When it comes to LinkedIn profile strategy are you LOST?

STOP ignoring LinkedIn, blaming the universe for your lack of clients, missed speaking opportunities or your dead-end job.

STOP declaring that the success of others must come from pure luck or because they are just better at marketing or they spend hours and hours on LinkedIn. They’re not.

 

LinkedIn is an amazing tool if you understand how it works. To make the most of LinkedIn you need to simplify and focus on results-driven strategy for your unique goals.

 

I see too many profiles that are LOST on their target audience:

  • Profiles that are UNFOCUSED like someone else’s prescription glasses.
  • Profiles that are cold and UNAPPROACHABLE like a Hollywood socialite;
  • Profiles that UNPROFESSIONAL like an half-finished science fair project;
  • Profiles that are AMAZING  but that still simply fail to target the RIGHT audience.

If you’ve got one or more of these issues, it’s no wonder LinkedIn doesn’t work for you or your business.

 

It drives me nuts when I see hard-working, and passionate folks like you put a valuable time investment into LinkedIn but miss the mark. The LinkedIn profile for a job seeker will not be the same as for a freelance writer nor will it be for someone seeking speaking gigs.

I know, I know, I know.

 

You are busy. 

You don’t have the time. 

And, you rewrote your profile just last week/month/year. 

Here is the thing —

LinkedIn done right will SAVE you time.

It will MAKE you money.

LinkedIn is an AWESOME tool.

If you are not getting results from LinkedIn, you are doing it wrong, and I can help.

So let me help you. 

With my LinkedIn Overhaul Strategy Today (LOST) you will suddenly see the light. You will be LinkedIn FOUND.

My offer:

 

I am promoting LOST (LinkedIn Overhaul & Strategy Today) to help passionate and smart freelancers, digital nomad women, and small businesses like you.

For the next seven days only, this package normally priced at $1750 will be available to the first ten takers for only $1000 US.

$1000 for Seven DAYS. One week.

On September 10th the cost will revert to the full price of $1750.

Get LinkedIn FOUND

 

You will get found with a LinkedIn profile overhaul plus networking strategy customized to your audience and personal LinkedIn goal.

  • Signup for LOST to get FOUND:
    – 4 Zoom video LinkedIn Strategy Coaching Sessions
    – I will audit your profile and show you where you are strong and where you are weak; you’ll learn how to make small changes for significant results.
    – I’ll guide you through choosing the right relationship building tools for your business, from InMails to Publishing, to Text Ads.
    – I’ll answer your questions and concerns.
    – I’ll draft a one-month custom LinkedIn engagement strategy to address your unique business goals for LinkedIn.
    – Your time commitment: 8 hours for one month (two hours per week).

Book now to reserve your spot. I schedule profile overhauls on a first-come-first-serve basis.

 

With my LinkedIn LOST Package you CAN:

This offer is a fantastic value and investment in your business for only two hours per week and 1-hour or less per week in the future, turn LinkedIn into a tool that converts clients and customers, grows your authority and builds relationships for your business.

  • Attract attention to your profile.
  • Hook your target audience.
  • Celebrate authentic relationships and your success!

As a professional resume writer, career strategist and LinkedIn GEEK, it KILLS me to see individuals discount their skills and experience, miss opportunities with silly mistakes, creating unfocused profiles that distract and mislead their ideal audience.

I want my clients to see real results and real SUCCESS.

Let me help you!

Let me be your LinkedIn Compass. Don’t be LOST.

If you haven’t already, sign up for your total LinkedIn Overhaul & Strategy Today!

Need a LinkedIn Profile Audit? Let Me Roast You!

Need a LinkedIn Profile Audit? Let Me Roast You!

What is a LinkedIn Audit or Profile Roast?

If you’ve ever roasted a marshmallow, you know that marshmallows start out perfectly perfect white poofs of sugar. But when carefully roasted they please different palettes. Some people like them golden brown and others burnt to a crisp.

You are like a marshmallow. Perfect just as you are.

However, to effectively optimize your LinkedIn profile, you need to be able to communicate your perfection to your ideal audience.  With my LinkedIn profile roast, I’ll take your profile — your marshmallow — and roast it to please the palette of your target LinkedIn audience.

In approximately of 5 minutes of live recorded video, I will go over each section of your profile and provide you with an overarching assessment followed by 5 to 10 pieces of strategic and actionable tips to guide you to get the most from your profile.  

So, get out a pencil and take notes. Just kidding. I’ll send you my notes in a single page PDF report, in addition to a link to your video.

Who doesn't love a FREEBIE!!!

Once a month I offer 3 to 5 public roasts to members of the Digital Nomad Girls Community or anyone woman who is ready for a career change. Complete my Typeform questionnaire to get on my waiting list. First come first serve. Must be willing to have your roast shared on my LinkedIn feed. 

Are you in a rush or do you want your roast kept private?

Once per week I record private roasts with my actionable tips shared directly with you via a private video link and a single page LinkedIn Actionable Tips PDF report. If you are a do-it-yourselfer or simply can’t afford a personalized profile rewrite, this is an awesome way to high value from my experienced feedback, fast and for the cost of free minimum shipping on Amazon.

$30 per roast

Complete my Typeform questionnaire and I will follow up with scheduling and payment details.