What is The Art of the Bold?

Let’s start with some honesty – I do not know what The Art of the Bold is – yet.

I can say that it will be a journey and give you some background on why I decided to create this passion project.

For several years I have been doing workshops, webinars, coaching groups, coaching individuals and lots of people on lots of different areas of their lives. Fundamentally I am good at three things – analyzing problems, thinking of solutions to solving problems and then connecting people to other resources to solve those problems.

Previously, I tried to start a site focused on just career coaching called Amendment Nine. I’ve turned Amendment Nine just into my consulting business. It’s why you’ll find the other blogs on here focused on professional development. However that felt too stifling. I love to delve in to lots of different areas and I am full of ideas. During a session with my therapist, he helped me to see that I create joy in my life by helping others recognize their own power simply by being present in a way that fits their journey. I actually really fought with myself over it because there are so many people who have huge followings who write words, sayings, etc. that I love. They create in a way that I wish I could. But I feel like I’ve been called to do this even if it is just for myself and so here I am.

So The Art of the Bold will be the culmination of those things. I can promise that it may feel random so I will try to organize it as much as possible. I can also tell you that for me, this platform will be used to talk about a lot of different topics and create an opportunity for me to think through some ideas I have that are still seedlings.

The name of this site comes from my mother. During a workshop I gave on risk-taking and your career (one of my most popular), I referenced taking bold action and she turned that into my catch-phrase – The Art of the Bold.

It will also be an opportunity for those looking for speakers, a coach or a workshop leader to come and figure out if I am the right fit for you.

Thank you for allowing me the space in your life. I hope that I can honor that in a very small way.

You Are Great, Your Resume Is Not

By my own count, I have read well over 1,000 resumes and probably closer to 2,000. Without an analytical study, I would say only 15% of those resumes were resumes that screamed a loud “YES, hire me for this job!” Probably another 30% were just mediocre and I would estimate that a full 50% actively worked against the candidate.

I am asked all the time what makes a good resume. The short answer is a resume should scream – “Yes, pick me, pick me.” It should clearly show your qualifications for a position. A good resume should have clear easy to read bullets or paragraphs that make sense to someone who has never met you. A great resume should list accomplishments and what you have done at your previous positions using the method of “showing, not telling.” A good resume incorporates quantitative, measurable results. The general rule of thumb is less than 10 years of experience is less than a page and 10+ years can work up to two pages. There are some specialized cases, e.g. Federal, highly technical, where longer resumes are acceptable.

Even if your resume is scanned by a computer, there are some tips you can use because at some point a human will lay eyes on it.

1. Grammar / Spelling  / Typos – Have at least three people, who are careful and detailed, read your resume. This works even better if the people reviewing your resume do not know you because they are less likely to “fill in the gap.” Your resume cannot contain any grammar errors, spelling mistakes or typos. If am reviewing a resume, depending on the egregiousness of the error, I will forgive a single error because we make mistakes. However, if your resume contains multiple typos, all you are doing is signaling sloppiness and laziness to the hiring manager and sending them on to the next candidate.

2. Unintelligible bullets – A person must be able to understand each bullet and/or sentence on your resume as a stand alone sentence. For example, do you know what this means? “sell multiple digital and online solutions for clients” Neither do I. What were the exact solutions? What were the results? How many clients? What’s the difference between digital and online? A better phrasing would be – “Sell B2B customer relationship management software for more than 10 clients resulting in $32,000 in additional revenue.”

3. Misuse of verbs – Actions in the past should use past tense verbs. Sounds very easy, but it is not. Again, this is where a review of your resume would comes in handy to make sure that your verbs are aligned in tense. If verbs are not in agreement, it makes it hard to read and understand.

4. Descriptions that are overly generic – You are a hard worker. Great so is everyone else. What does that even mean? People remember and notice specific details. Tell me you lead a team of four people across three time-zones, not that you lead international teams.

5. Combining multiple formats – If someone is reviewing your resume, either in person or online, they will spend less than a minute reading it. Make sure it is easy to follow by ensuring your format is simple and consistent. This includes small things like making sure you are using one font for your resume. Also make sure if you are using bullets they are all aligned. Generally speaking, bullets are easier to scan and digest for the reader than a paragraph. However, there are ways to incorporate both depending on the specific requirements for your professional experience.

6. Not using a cover letter – While some positions require a cover letter, if I am applying for a job that I really want, I ALWAYS write a cover letter. The majority of candidates online will not use a cover letter, even if the position application specifically requests one. Also if any of the following apply to you, you should definitely use a cover letter to explain your qualifications and transferable skills:

  • Switching industries or functions
  • Leveling up (explain why you think you can perform a higher level)
  • Other significant change from what your resume explains

7. Not customizing your resume – It is absolutely critical to customize, at least partially, your resume for each position. Or if you are working full-time and trying to job hunt, have at least three versions of your resume that you can use for positions. One easy way if you are applying for a position that might use a computer scanner is to update your resume with the language used in the job posting/description. When doing this you should never lie or exaggerate your experience. However, switching verbs such as “Managed three analysts” for “Supervised three analysts” is fair game if the job description uses the word supervised. In certain industries, e.g.Federal Government jobs, there are certain requirements that are necessary for a resume. Before applying, consult with an industry expert to make sure your resume meets minimum expectations.

If this post was helpful, please share it with a friend and leave a comment!

The One Thing You Can Do Now That Will Advance Your Career Almost Immediately

Do you know there is one tip that is guaranteed to help you advance your career? Do you know that it doesn’t require much effort either, but almost no one uses it.

It is simply – ask for feedback.

Let’s discuss feedback for a minute. For the majority of us, we get lackadaisical performance reviews once or twice a year that don’t really offer any insight into our performance. At best, they are mediocre yardsticks and at worst the potential for politics run amok.

But, if you want to push ahead to the next level you have to ask for feedback regularly and proactively. You can’t adjust your behavior if you don’t know what adjustments you need to make. Also, feedback discussions, if you have a good manager, allow you to build rapport with your manager and your team.

 

Below is an action plan to get you started.

1.Learn how to ask for feedback

The first step in using feedback, is to know how and when to ask for it. People who have studied organizations or even animal behavior (Thanks Pavlov!) know that feedback needs to be timely to be useful. The worst thing ever is finding out months or years later that something you did, which could have been corrected,

2.Open yourself up to criticism

We all know that one person. The person who asks you for your “honest opinion,” but then fights when you tell them something they don’t want to hear. Don’t be that person. If you ask for feedback, the first step is you have to be open to receive it. Our automatic response is to get defensive, but the first thing to remember is that most feedback isn’t personal.

3. Learn how to give feedback

There is an art to giving feedback. Part of the corollary to #1 is that not everyone knows how to give feedback that is useful to the person receiving it. Some folks browbeat you, some folks make it personal and some aren’t specific enough. Before you give anyone feedback, know what outcome you would like to achieve. This will help you structure the conversation.

4. Create an action plan for how you will use feedback

Feedback is useless to you if you don’t act upon it. After you have received your feedback session, create an action plan for how you will incorporate it to make changes. Ideally this should be done with your manager so that you can create action items that you can measure your progress against.

Feedback is the most useful tool you aren’t currently using.

The Cold Email

Over the last several weeks I have received emails from people seeking things. Sometimes they are “warm” emails, meaning a follow-up from an event where I spoke and invited the audience to reach out to me. However, I have received a few “cold” emails from people on LinkedIn. The cold email is where you email the person out of the blue. Even if you were introduced by a mutual acquaintance, the email is still cold, unless the acquaintance did the introduction.

Now there is lots and lots of advice on how to write great “cold” networking emails, but here are a few tips of what will actually work.

1) Do keep your email short and well-written

Your email is going to be the first introduction the person has to you. Let me know why you are choosing to contact them. Write your email as if it is being read on a phone. Make is clear and concise. Bullets help, but make your bullets relevant. If you are using a form email, have someone read it before sending it out. This email may be your only communication with the person and you don’t want it ignored simply because you didn’t know the difference between your and you’re (and stay away from contractions in general). A good writing tip is to keep it simple. Trying to sound smart in an email generally comes off as arrogant. Do not type these emails on your phone (or replies). Trust me, the autocorrect errors are worse than anything you could come up with on your own. Another tip is to write your email and then wait a day and re-read it before sending it.

 2) Do do some research on the person prior to emailing them

Several times I have received emails addressed to Mr. A simple Google search or search on LinkedIn would have prevented this very careless error since my picture and information is very clearly displayed all over the web. At a minimum, making a mistake like this shows me that you are just either mass emailing, or not taking the time. It’s an immediate put off. The other benefit is that researching allows you to connect with your subject in a very personal way. You may find an article they have written or a panel discussion they have sat on in your field. There is absolutely zero excuse to doing research on your contact.

3) Do not immediately ask for a job or job help

To the person you are emailing, you are a stranger. You are unproven. What you are asking them to do is use their political capital to get you an “in.” Capital is a resource and is limited. Don’t ask for a referral until the person knows you and is actually willing to vouch for you. Why should I use my political capital on a stranger? A better option is the informational interview. I may be willing to help you out after I have met you and have gotten to know you better. I still may not, but don’t badger me which leads into…

4) Do not follow up incessantly

I have read various articles and in some cases they recommend following up in as little as 2-3 days after sending an email. You shouldn’t follow up for a least 2 – 3 weeks. Again, you have no idea what the person is going through in their life right now. They might be in the midst of a wedding, childbirth, switching jobs, or anything. You should be respectful of their time. And at most, a second follow-up is all you get. I will not respect you for your persistence as several articles have suggested. I am busy and you want something from me.  Even for people I KNOW and want to reply to, it could easily be a month before I get through and reply. This was even more true when I was a consultant. I was managing my work inbox, a client inbox, my personal email and flying thousands of miles a month. Well, you get the picture.

Remember that you are dealing with people in real life when you email. While it may seem like it’s not a big deal, you always want to have your best foot forward.

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Following Up – Thank You! Merci! Shukran!

After any encounter, if you want it go further than just someone you met somewhere, you need to follow up. These days a follow-up is almost done entirely on email.

Now, here is where many many leads are lost (I myself am quit guilty of this). We collect business cards, we collect emails and iffy LinkedIn contacts and are told and encouraged – follow up with me so we can connect further on <insert topic>. Sometimes, you are asked to follow up because there isn’t time at said event to discuss the topic in-depth. Other times, you are following up on an application (the hey, did you forget about me), or after an interview (the thank you note) or sometimes you need someone to take an action. I can tell you, out of the thousands of people I have spoken in front of and shared my contact information, less than 50 have followed up directly with me afterwards.

So, even before you read this post – commit to following up with everyone for a month.

However, all follow-ups contain a few key common elements.

First, remember that if you are following up, you have already had an encounter with the person. It’s a really wonderful thing to start off with a warm contact. This could be someone you met at a networking event, a speaker, an interviewer. In your note, make sure you indicate how you met and feel free to utilize something to help them jog their memory (I was the one who told the story about hand-gliding). I know it seems obvious, but depending on the length of time since your last point of contact, they may not remember you. It also sets the stage for how you will structure the rest of the message.

Second, keep it professional. I have heard story after story of how people lost the job, or ended the connection because they were “too familiar” with the person, or over-shared or something else that wasn’t professional. Generally, if you are following up, you want something from the person. You need them to do something for you (meet with you, hire you, etc.). This means pay attention to your grammar, and don’t say things like “Wow, it was great seeing that not all middle-aged people are blowhards.”

Third, think about the content of the email. This follow-up may be your last shot (if it’s a thank you note for example) or should set the tone. Do you want to highlight aspects of your experience, you didn’t get to talk about in the interview? This is where you need to be deliberate and specific about your request of the person. If you need an in-person meeting, then state that. If you need them to respond to something then state that too. However, if this is a follow-up from a networking event, this is NOT the time to ask them – hey, can you hire me. Or if you interviewed, this is NOT the time to ask “How did I do?” or “What are my chances?” If you aren’t the best writer, ask a friend to review the email before you send it. Before sending emails where I want a response, I often type a first draft. Wait at least an hour, come back and read it and then check – Is it clear? Does it have a specific ask? Does it outline what’s in it for them? Does it push my brand? Are there any typos? And be warm and friendly.

Last, don’t stalk the person. I have been a victim of the “professional stalk” and all it does it turn me off from wanting to help me. Remember that people are busy. You should allow at least one week for a response. As I said in my earlier post on The Cold Email, you don’t want to stalk people.