Team putting fists together to show teamwork
Careers, Communication, Interviews, Jobs, Resumes, Uncategorized

What Can You Do for a Company?

Paraphrasing from JFK, I suggest during any job hunt or interview, don’t focus on what you want to do, but what you can do for a company.  These are indeed interesting times.  Many sectors are seeing an increase in unemployment, while other sectors have job openings and a lack of talent to fill those roles.  Many of my career coaching clients are coming to me not because they don’t have a good job, but more often now because they are really thinking long and hard about what they want to do.  I discussed in another blog, “Mortality Smacks Many in the Face,” how a brush with death (209K dead from COVID in the US alone) can wake up anyone.  We only have a limited time on this earth, so what do we want to do with our waking hours since most of us still have to pay the bills?

First, we have to do an assessment of our skills.  Often I find clients telling me I’m a good communicator, or I’ve got great project management skills.  These are what I consider soft skills that anyone can develop.  They are necessary to be successful but what differentiates you from others are the hard skills.  Do you have mad computer skills and can do a data migration?  Are you a talented health economist who can improve quality and reduce costs? Are you extremely knowledgeable about education systems and training?

There are plenty of assessment tests out there, you can do a formal one or you can do an inventory of your skills.  What I have found is that the things you love to do, tend to be the things you are best at doing.  Part of the assessment process is figuring out which of the skills or tasks you do you would like to continue doing in your next role.  Once you’ve done this, you can craft a resume to highlight these areas and a LinkedIn profile that complements the resume.   Sometimes a traditional resume can accomplish this, and sometimes a different format, one that is a mix of functional and chronological is better.  There are so many free tools available these days that anyone can create a very professional-looking resume. If you’re looking for resume templates, check Google docs or Canva.  The key ingredient to a strong marketing presentation of yourself is a strong pitch.  See my blog on pitches for more details on how to create one.  

A pitch highlights and shares your best skills and in what environments you have used them.  But, what a pitch really does is translate for a company what you do, how you do it, and what that means to them.  It’s one thing to list all your accomplishments, it’s another thing to translate them into what you can do for an organization.  They want to know how you will impact the bottom line and what you bring to the table.

The purpose of a resume or a LinkedIn profile is to capture someone’s attention so they want to learn more.  Ideally, a profile will gain you entry to an informational or formal interview.  What you do with that time is key.  Preparation matters.  Ask good questions and demonstrate you have done your homework and know how to listen.  A client and friend shared how much she values the STAR approach when responding to interview questions.  If you aren’t familiar with behavioral interviews it’s simple, S=Situation, T=Task, A=Action, and R=Results.  If you can share short concise powerful stories in this format that illustrate your capabilities and demonstrate the results, this is incredible.  It leads you to the final punch, translating the results into how a company benefits from bringing you into their team. A good match results in a satisfying career and a successful company.

Careers, Communication, Jobs, Mentoring, Networking, Resumes, Work Strategies, Working Professionals

Imposter Syndrome, Stop it Dead in It’s Tracks

September is my favorite time of year and each year when it rolls around, I always forgot it’s also the most stressful one for me followed only by June and not even considering the “holiday season”. What do these two months have in common? Well that’s when the academic calendar starts and finishes. No, I’m not a teacher, but I have been a parent for thirty years now. My youngest is 15 and just started high school. School sports, back to school night, birthdays, and more, September is jam packed. This year I finally got to pause in October and reflect on a reoccurring theme, Imposter Syndrome. When a topic pokes at me several times, I think it’s time to tackle it and share it with others. Here are several scenarios where I observed Imposter Syndrome in myself and others, plus action or tools to overcome the anxiety.SituationI must have forgotten about how busy September is when I accepted the offer to present three workshops to the biomedical grad students at Georgetown University. It was a professional/personal brand themed day and as a guest trainer I added insight to pitching, presenting, and primping your social media. It’s one of my favorite activities, running interactive sessions where we all learn from each other. These workshops had a slight twist to them though, they weren’t focused on the mechanics of preparing for an interview, or creating a resume, the emphasis was on developing your own brand.TaskFor this reason, I had to do more prep than usual after 20 years of delivering my career workshops. Each and every audience has different requirements/needs, so I do customize my delivery. This time though, I got nervous and asked for feedback from the career center director, several times. Finally, I went out and made some special handouts which I hadn’t done in a long time. The day of the event I had more butterflies in my stomach than usual. Normally presenting raises my energy and I thrive.Action

Upon arrival we realized that the 25-30 students who had signed up, weren’t all going to be there. We shifted the tables to make things more intimate and created a U shape around the screen. Then we realized that to be responsive to the group that did join us, I was going to have to customize the content even more so the Prezi (newly learned presentation software better than Powerpoint), was basically useless.

Two bumps in the road, Bill Stixrud, local author, psychologist, always says expect obstacles to appear, and have a Plan B. Sometimes you need Plan C and D too. As the students and I discussed the various topics, preparing your pitch for networking, presenting the best resume/linkedin page, and leveraging your network, I gradually calmed down. My goal was to share as much information as possible, be responsive to the students, and earn my fee. As I continued to converse with the students, I remembered that I have wisdom and insight that was valuable for all the attendees. Feedback from the sessions will be helpful too. One of the grad students who attended mentioned she was running a workshop on Imposter Syndrome the following week. That made me pause and really think. Was I battling the insecurities of Imposter Syndrome after all these years?


Two days later, on an early Thursday, I met with one of my career strategy coaching clients. My goal was to help her prepare for an important interview. She’s a bright PhD with several years of experience. We laughed but also stopped to reflect when she too described sometimes wondering if she was good enough or “for real”. According to several articles on the topic, when we tackle new tasks or have a major event, we often have relapses into insecurity. I saw that anxiety provoking monster of Imposter Syndrome poking it’s ugly head up again as she explored new jobs through interviews.


The articles also shared that highly intelligent capable individuals often suffer intermittently from Imposter Syndrome. The tendency of Type A people is towards perfectionism. That rang several bells for me. I recognized my client had a similar profile and encouraged her to be well prepared as a way to regain her confidence. Also, I suggested she recognize doing a good job is important but also recognize when it’s time to let go and accept “good enough”. It made me read, reflect and remember another example from my childhood.

Savvy Psychologist Ellen Hendriksen, states that the syndrome is often seen in higher amounts within minority communities or when someone is an outsider. The fear of not belonging or feeling that they don’t deserve to be in a given setting is all part of Imposter Syndrome. To overcome these feeling we have to recognize that perfection is not the goal, “good enough” is plenty.

As a kid I remember not participating because of fear of failure and now I know this was an early sign of this syndrome. I was a talented athlete who dedicated considerable time to honing my skills as a soccer player. Being the only girl on an all boys team though, was a clear example of being an outsider in an environment that could make me doubt myself. On the field with solid passes, and strong defensive play, the feeling always disappeared.

A review of our many talents and abilities can help ease the feelings of doubt the syndrome causes. See my list below for other suggestions on beating back Imposter Syndrome.


Recently I was accepted into Leadership Greater Washington. The first time I wasn’t accepted so this was a second effort. The application process requires recommendations and entry is competitive. 65 people are selected each year to participate which includes a diverse group of community leaders. I was thrilled when I heard the news, but did I deserve to be there? Those familiar butterflies were back as I attended the orientation.


I signed in, received my name tag and looked nervously into the room. Who would I talk to and about what? I took a deep breath, walked in and saw a classmate seated with her leg stretched out in a brace awkwardly in front of her with crutches dropped on floor below. Instantly, I forgot my nervousness and jumped into a conversation. We started to talk about sports injuries and the anxiety began to fade. We had a lengthy conversation spanning topics from waterskiing to her father attending the same school International school I did in Bangkok, Thailand. When I forget about myself and concentrate on others, the thoughts of being an Imposter quickly leave my brain. It’s one of the coping mechanisms I have adapted over my lifetime.


For me that’s often the solution, just jumping in and focusing on others. This concept was driven home even further after I returned from the retreat. Day one had been fabulous, but day two I had gotten stuck with my “trainer hat” on. My husband was the one who reminded me that I am a participant, not observing and that by engaging in activities that take me out of my comfort zone, I could let go of any of that remaining anxiety. I also reminded myself that everyone around me was probably feeling similar. Best way I know to overcome the feeling of being an imposter was to remember I have lots of things to share, I’m an interesting talented genuine human being, and that’s all I can be.


There are several other stories I can share, from men, women, old and young. The common thread is that we all seem to have some form of Imposter Syndrome at different stages of our lives. Rather than allowing it to cripple us, I’d say embrace it, develop methods to channel that anxiety into being our best selves. Below are some suggestions to store in your tool box. And in the words of Bill Stixrud, remember to always have a Plan B in life. Or as someone once told me, “Fake it till you make it!”


Definition: Impostor syndrome (also known as impostor phenomenon, impostorism, fraud syndrome or the impostor experience) is a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a “fraud”.

Signs you have it:

  • Can’t take a compliment?
  • Feel like a fake?
  • Convinced you’ll be unmasked at any moment?

Ways to overcome Imposter Syndrome:

  • Find a strong mentor or supporter to be in your corner
  • Recognize what you do well, write it down
  • Realize your expertise, share it with others
  • Let go of perfectionism, “good enough” is more than acceptable

Sources of Additional Information Kirsten Weir, article in the American Psychology Association published in 2013 Ellen Hendriksen, article in Scientific American

Professor Dr. Carol Dweck (author of Mindset) at Stanford suggests praising effort not a characteristic in our children to prevent building Imposter Syndrome in our kids. Kind labels about brains or beauty can be detrimental or imply you either have “it” or you don’t with no where to grow. With one failure they could feel your label is incorrect. We never want to discourage our children from trying new things out of fear of failure or that our “label is wrong”. She also adds, that by building in an expectation of early failure we help build resiliency. Bill Stixrud quotes her research in his book, The Self-Driven Child.

Careers, Networking, Resumes, Uncategorized, Work Strategies, Working Parents, Working Professionals

Communicate Your Creds

The Merriam Webster dictionary definition of a résumé is short, or “a summary”. The origins of the word are French and date from the early 19th century. Humans have been creating résumés or “Curriculum Vitas” (CV) for hundreds of years. Like music, the notes have all been played before, but the way you put them together is key to how you build a powerful, useful tool for yourself.

If you Google to find rules, a format, or a sample of a résumé, you will get gobs of information. There are thousands of résumé writers, coaches, and books about the subject. There are lots of good resources out there, and if you ask four people, you will get four different opinions on what and how to present information. It’s one of the topics that I receive the most questions about during the process of identifying the next opportunity. The reality is that it’s a piece of paper that is supposed to summarize who we are. How is it even possible to sum up, in words, paper, or electronically, the essence of who we are?

Remember that the purpose of a résumé is to share a summary of your many talents with a potential employer, but the true goal is to make the person reading your resume WANT TO MEET YOU! We are not striving for a perfect résumé, but to translate or share enough of our essence to get an audience. I’d like to propose that we remind ourselves of why we create a résumé (to earn an interview) and then concentrate on how we create a résumé (best summary of our skills) that is focused on the basics.


I suggest creating a core resume that is all inclusive. Regularly add to this document; additional roles, increased responsibilities, ongoing training, publications, presentations, and extracurriculars. Keep it up-to-date. Think of a core resume as your portfolio. The next step is to tailor it. It’s your responsibility to craft a document for your specific audience. A résumé is the first item that introduces you to a potential employer, but along with it goes an email or cover letter.  The content matters as much as the presentation. Trust me… they are looking at your format, your ability to write and express ideas, and your attention to detail. Your resume is a tool to gain an interview so you can deliver a marketing presentation of yourself, face-to-face.

How creative you are, what format you choose, what information you share; all are personal choices. Be consistent whatever you choose. The core stays the same. You can customize your résumé for your audience each time you use it. This means selecting the items from the all inclusive résumé that are going to appeal the most to your potential employer. Don’t combine too many ideas or make the resume so busy that it detracts from the content.


Pick one style, keep it simple, and stick with it-check your entire document for consistency. Bold the same things, italicize the same things, layout the same format, but don’t use all the “bling” at one time because it can overwhelm. Remember, be consistent. I’m going to repeat this again and again. Be consistent. Neither of these examples below are wrong, but all the positions must be presented in the same way throughout the document.

Account Executive

RRLLC, McLean, Virginia

January 2010 – present


Account Executive Jan 2010 – present

RRLLC, Mclean, VA

Present the information in powerful ways, traditionally in third person. Boring doesn’t get you an interview. “Show, don’t tell” is key. Use a strong opening statement that shares skills, describes accomplishments, and translates how you add value to an organization.

20 year market research executive with a proven track record of successes


Innovative 20 year market research leader who’s deep industry knowledge has successfully attracted and retained clients.

Clearly present the facts with powerful details that express the depth and breadth of your experience – quantify and qualify any information you present. Pick a paragraph or use bullets (I prefer bullets).

Managed 7 staff members.


  • Hired, trained, and managed 7 professionals with a 80% retention rate over a five year period.

Proof your work.  Make sure to check grammar or for spelling errors and typos. If this isn’t your forté, find someone who can help. Content is important, but your presentation matters too. Most of your tasks on your resume were completed in the past, so make sure to use past tense. If you are presently in your job, that is the only description that will be in the present tense. Be specific and share details.

Lead teams on a variety of successful projects for a client.


Led teams of five on simultaneous business analytic projects that were delivered on time, within budget, and client requested additional work.  


Include pertinent information in the resume. The opening statement is important. Highlights or a showcase of special skills can be valuable. Descriptive powerful statements about your roles, responsibilities, and accomplishments is crucial. Skills, certificates, licenses, education, continued training, memberships, or extra curricular activities add impact. If the item adds depth or demonstrates an additional dimension to your candidacy, include it.

Another way to increase your chances of that in-person meeting are to allow the reader to connect with you. The prescreen person needs to be able to see you have the skills and abilities to do the tasks, and it’s a plus if they can relate to you too. The rule of thumb has been if you have under seven years of experience, stick to a one pager. After that, try and keep it short but you can have a two to three pager. Professionals in more research or academic worlds often use a longer style or the CV format. It will never be perfect, but good enough is what you want. The true test is if you get results: interviews. Do your best or get help from someone who can. Then get out there and start the conversations.

We have about 30 seconds to capture someone’s attention, use it wisely.

Careers, Jobs, Resumes, Uncategorized, Work Strategies, Working Parents, Working Professionals

Road Map to Find “The Job”​

Each year I give hours of advice to job hunters on how to identify and secure the job they want. Next week, I’m doing a workshop on resumes & preparing for interviews for our current Empowered Women International Entrepreneur Training for Success program. I realized that the road map is the most important piece that comes before you can get to the interviews. I remembered the coaching tips or tweaks a matchmaker and dating coach gave me about dating. Yes, there are some strong similarities, and a few differences. Most of the time, it’s just small adjustments that can make a huge difference in your dating life or your job hunting success. Here are my coaching tips & tweaks that can improve your search for “The Job”.

It’s a lot of work, I won’t lie. No one else can do it for you, it takes research, name gathering, building a spreadsheet to track it all, and then you are finally ready to start your journey. Creating a road map is not for the faint hearted, and there may appear to be short cuts, but we all know what happens on those, the wolf eats you, or you get stuck in the mud. Here are the steps that I share with people who are looking for their next opportunity. Regardless of where you are in your career, I know this process works. You must be proactive to have success, and remember you can’t skip steps.



  • Where are you on the education spectrum, did you complete HS, tech school, college, grad school?
  • Have you gained the skills of your trade, SW, HW, subject matter?
  • Language skills?

Professional Experience

  • Do you have any work experience?
  • Is it related to your areas of interest or unrelated?
  • Do you need additional training or retraining?

Marketing Materials/Packaging

  • Have you crafted your “Elevator Pitch”?
  • Is your resume well developed and representative of your best skills?
  • Do you have people who will give you references?
  • Have you built a portfolio, a body of work, or a reputation through presentations & publications?


When people say they are job hunting and sending out 100s of resumes each day; or they tell you that they are applying to lots of jobs via the internet, but nothing is happening; they don’t understand why they aren’t making progress; I call this kind of job hunting “PASSIVE”. This kind of plan or action doesn’t get you closer to “The Job”.

The best career search is a PROACTIVE one. This requires effort, and going through all the steps I describe here, self-evaluation through creating a plan, and implementing it. Here’s the next step after self-evaluation.


First, leverage your spheres of influence, your inner circle to your outer circle. Gather names of people you have worked with over time, people you went to school with, people you have met in your field. Next expand your circles to people you know or can be introduced to through friends and family. The outermost ring is created by doing research on people you heard speak at professional meetings, or discovered online, or read something they wrote.

To grow your networking options even more, consider organizations where each of these professionals work now or have in the past (see LinkedIn comments for more info). Plus professional associations that are strong in your industry are a great resource. There are lots of tools out there to do research and gather information. Now, within moments you can Google information about most any organization or person. What can be especially helpful is the power of LinkedIn. You don’t have to pay for the service, the free version has plenty of bandwidth.

I’ve walked many a person through some of the helpful tools or data points you can gain from LinkedIn. I’m sure there are many more ways to use this medium but I’m going to share some basics here.


Looking up a person on LinkedIn gives you several pieces of information. You can see where they trained and what firms they worked with over time. You can also see similar profiles on the right hand side of your screen. Below the list of similar people, you can also see profiles that other people checked out. This gives you additional people or possible companies to network with about their roles or organizations.

If you look up a company, you can see all the employees who are on LinkedIn, presently working with the firm, or who have in the past. Plus, there are often groups of alumni-former employees, or groups with shared interests on a myriad of topic areas. Once you are looking at a company profile, you can also see a list on the bottom right hand side of your screen that shows similar companies. This is another way to gather related companies and their employees for potential networking.


Gathering all the information on small scraps of paper, or on your phone in lists, doesn’t count. It’s really important to build a solid spreadsheet in Excel or something similar. I like to capture the date you enter the information, the company, the contact with their title, their contact information, their industry sector, follow up dates, and notes.

Schedule everything on a calendar (Google or Outlook), and include any follow up instantly or it won’t happen. Trust me after years of recruiting, I know that it takes several efforts to reach someone (no it’s not personal when they don’t respond), and there is no way you will remember to follow up if you don’t put it on your calendar. Numbers are key. You need to reach out to lots of people and companies through different mediums; email, phone, and LinkedIn to have success. 

In the tracking notes you need to write down the outcomes; if you need to send information, or need to follow up, or even to arrange a meeting. You will not have any recollection of someone after you speak with 50 people. There are CRM systems out there, but not everyone has access to this. Write down your notes so you won’t forget something key.


Periodically assess your tool. See if tracking sheet needs reorganization. Look to see if there are patterns, or sectors that are stronger, or what you can learn from all the data. DO NOT SPEND HOURS MAKING PRETTY CHARTS AND NOT REACHING OUT TO PEOPLE OR HAVING CONVERSATIONS. Working on your tracking sheet can be used as a way to procrastinate, but the tracking device is to keep you on your path. Plus, sometimes you can get travel weary or discouraged. The TRACKING DEVICE will show you that you are making progress on your journey.


Start reaching out to people for Informational Interviews (Informational Interviews). Be prepared to share your pitch, follow up, and ask good questions. Track the outcomes, and know that you are getting closer and closer to your destination. There is a good opportunity out there waiting for you to find it, it’s up to you to map the best course. Don’t forget to enjoy the journey.

Careers, Jobs, Resumes, Uncategorized, Work Strategies

Capture a Crowd with your Resume Opener

You can list a bunch of words so a computer can find you, you can state an objective at the start of your resume, but neither is going to get someone to read much further. You have about five seconds to capture the attention of your reader, grab them, and share enough that they want to read onward. Some people believe the cover letter is key. Others will argue the resume rules. I’m a resume reader. I often don’t bother with the cover letter at all.

These ideal elements (described below) will help you build a powerful, concise, highlight, statement. As you prepare to enter the marketplace, build a comprehensive marketing presentation. This includes your “elevator pitch”, your intro statement on your resume, and your marketing presentation of yourself. Today we will focus on the introduction, stay tuned for more conversation about pitches and preparing for interviews.

Components of an opening statement

Like any journal or newspaper piece, the first line has to pull you in and be packed with important information. If possible, “show not tell” because it’s a more powerful tool. As you craft this statement, think about the key elements:

How many years of experience do you have doing what you do best?


  • Over twenty years as a consultant and entrepreneur
  • Ten plus years as an executive focused on strategy within the health sector

Where did you gain your experience?


  • Academic training
  • On the job
  • Private, public or commercial organizations
  • Sectors or industry verticals

What are your strongest skills or accomplishments?


  • Technical expertise
  • Subject matter expertise
  • Specific skills demonstrated by a project or product

Closing an opening statement powerfully

How do you add value to an organization? 


  • Teach or train others in valuable technical skills
  • Share knowledge and best practices
  • Develop methods to streamline and produce superior results

Can you translate your skills and accomplishments into how a company will benefit from your talents?


  • Grow client base by referrals based on special skill demonstrated with previous project
  • Deliver high quality results that stand the test of time
  • Publish or present at industry events to build reputation of excellence


The power of your statement will results in several outcomes. First, you will have succinctly presented the highlights of your many talents. Next, a potential employer will want to read further and gather more details. Most importantly, your carefully crafted document will entice the reader to want to meet you and learn more. That’s the goal of a resume, to be invited to have a conversation either by phone or in person. You are now one step closer to a formal interview.