How to keep your resume out of the trash

How to Keep Your Resume Out of the Trash

Differentiate your resume with relevance.

We’re writing today with compassion for any of you who are looking for work. If it’s been a minute, the frustration is probably mounting. You might even begin questioning yourself, and the value you bring.

Repeated rejection can discourage even the most resilient person.

With that said, we want to give you the best chance to ensure your resume is given a fair chance.

You see, we just posted and hired for two new positions at Let’s Grow Leaders. And, what we saw during this process surprised us—and we realized that there are some insights here to help your resume stand out.

For one of these roles, we posted an opening on two different job boards. In the postings, we asked applicants to send their resume and include their answer to one question:

“Who is a leader you respect and why do you respect that person?”

Within ten days, we received 250 applications.

Three Simple Ways to Differentiate Your Resume

Now, if you’re looking for your next position, that might feel overwhelming. You might be wondering how you can possibly stand out from those 250 applicants.

It’s easier than you might think. There are four straightforward ways you can differentiate your resume. They aren’t difficult and they don’t take too much time.

1. Respond accurately and completely.

Let’s start with the most obvious opportunity. In our post, we asked that specific question about a leader you respect.

Of those 250+ applicants, how many do you think answered that one simple question?


Only four—that’s it. Out of 250+ applications, we received four qualified applicants. (The job involved attention to detail and responsiveness so seeing if they followed directions is a very relevant qualification.)

The first step to submit a relevant application is to read carefully, understand, and respond to the posting.

There were hundreds of people just clicking a button, saying, “Yeah, that might be a possibility.”

You can differentiate yourself right away just by responding accurately. Over the years, we’ve seen literally thousands of applications. The number of people who complete the process fully and accurately is shockingly small.

2. Respond rapidly.

We corresponded with those four applicants. Two of them immediately distinguished themselves with their level of responsiveness. One person didn’t respond at all. One person took up to two days to respond. In contrast, the other two replied within four hours.

Now, we recognize that you’re managing a life that might be messy and hard to plan. Even so, your level of responsiveness will set you apart from other candidates. It conveys your professionalism and that you take your work seriously.

3. Respond with research.

You have access to more information about prospective employers at your fingertips than at any time in history.

For many organizations, a quick look at their website, their leaders’ LinkedIn profiles, or a web search will help you learn about their work, their mission, their history, their recent celebrations or achievements, and more.

In your cover letter or follow-up correspondence, show your work. Talk about what they do and why you’d like to be a part of it. You can reference a recent success and why it’s motivating. There are countless opportunities to tailor your comments meaningfully.

Spend ten or fifteen minutes to understand the organization and you will further distinguish your resume and interview from all the others.

Often, you can find the hiring manager online and write them directly, noting your submission through the platform they used, and personalizing your message with relevant research.

If this research sounds like a lot of work, we invite you to consider that, in our experience, less than 1% of candidates do this. You’ve instantly distinguished yourself as someone who’s serious about being a part of the team.

4. Respond to your interview with questions.

There are plenty of guides to interviewing effectively, but the one skill we want to emphasize is to ask good questions.

If you have an opportunity to ask your interviewer questions, be prepared with thoughtful questions. Asking good questions demonstrates that you’ve done your research, you’re seriously interested in the role, you understand the opportunities or challenges, and that you belong in a successful organization.

Examples of powerful questions we’ve been asked when interviewing candidates include:

  • “What’s your vision for the company in the next five years?”
  • “I saw in that Business Journal article that you had a record year last year. How are you building on that? How do you hope this position will contribute to that success?”
  • “You obviously have a clear strategy to _____ and it’s working. I’m curious how you got there?”
  • “Looking at your marketing presence online, it looks like you’re targeting this demographic. Have you considered finding more of those people on this platform?”
  • “In your LinkedIn profile, I notice you have a lot of experience doing _______.  I’d love to learn more from you about that. What’s been the most surprising thing you’ve learned along the way?”
  • “How has this challenging time impacted your business? What are you doing differently?”

Hiring managers can spot someone going through the motions in an application in a hot minute. Taking time to go a level deeper will give you an immediate competitive advantage in the hiring process.

Your Turn

We’d love to hear from you. Based on your experience of either receiving or reviewing resumes, what helps to differentiate the ones that get taken seriously?

You Might Also Like:

Career Development May Mean Career Disruption

How to Avoid Pigeon Holing Yourself For Greater Career Success

Resume Remedy: 5 Questions Your Resume Must Answer

Heartbeat Leadership – Interview with Dawn Kirk

In this wisdom-packed episode, executive coach and author Dawn Kirk gives you practical tools she developed throughout her career to help your team navigate the challenges of our times while remaining focused on the results the team exists to achieve. Listen to the end for a powerful way to grow your career and get the feedback you need – even when you feel ignored.

Connect with Dawn:

Book Website

Get Dawn’s Book, Heartbeat Leadership

Heartbeat Leadership Interview with Dawn Kirk

how to get your boss excited about your new idea

How to Get Your Boss Excited About Your Idea

You’ve got a great idea you just know will improve the business. How do you get your boss excited? Okay, let’s be real, not just excited, but as excited as you are?

7 Ways to Get Your Boss Excited About Your Great Idea

Your boss has a lot going on. How do you make your great idea stand out? It starts here.

1. Rock your day job.

As executives, we would frequently hold skip level meetings to uncover new ideas for improving the customer and employee experience. Often we would run into an employee with lots of ideas who was frustrated because his boss never let him work on them. But when we would question their manager about this, we’d hear an exasperated sigh “He can’t get his regular work done.” Or, “Her performance scorecard is in the bottom 10% of the team. I need her focused there.”

If you want your boss to take your new ideas seriously, be sure you’re delivering well on the fundamentals.

2. Align your idea with strategic priorities.

One of our clients has a fantastic formalized system to encourage employees to share ideas. There is no shortage of opportunities for people to speak up and share their great ideas. In fact, there are so many ideas competing for attention, there are many good ones that just get lost in the sauce. Do you know which ideas get noticed and immediately implemented? The ones aligned with the company’s MIT (Most Important Thing) strategic priorities. If you want to get your boss excited about your great idea, be sure she thinks it will excite her boss.

3. Be able to share a clear benefit statement (and be able to pass the red-face test – that the main person who will benefit is not you.)

Your boss will hear ideas that will make your job easier, but the best ideas have a bigger impact.  Any manager who’s been around the block a few times can smell an empire-building stunt or a slick move that makes your job easier (while leaving your peers to pick up the slack).

Be able to articulate your idea in terms of clear benefits statements. For example:

  • This will reduce customer wait time by five minutes.
  • This will increase cross-functional collaboration and enable us to more quickly identify best practices.
  • This IT enhancement will eliminate 13% of compliance-related human error.
  • Boss, this will make your job easier by…

4. Show the immediate win.

Sure, the 5-year impact will interest your boss, but they’re likely to get even more excited if you can show a proof-of-concept right away. Consider a pilot to showcase an immediate impact and then do the math of how that impact would scale.

5. Articulate the risks and expected challenges.

If you want your boss to take your idea seriously, spend at least as much time thinking about why your idea might not work as how it will. One of our favorite techniques is to ask trusted advisors, “Tell me honestly, why do you think this idea might not work?” Then address each of these challenges head-on, as you’re making your pitch. Explain how you’re working to prevent the issue or reduce the risk.

We love Kim Kaupe’s idea in the Muse’s How to Pitch an Idea to your Boss to prepare three lists of 3s:

Bring your supervisor three lists of three items each to pitch a new project idea. The first list should include three reasons why this project would benefit the company, the second three reasons why you’re perfect to lead the project, and the last should be the three obstacles you see getting in your way and how you would handle them. These lists display planning, forward thinking, and ambition! —Kim KaupeZinePak

6. Have a solid execution strategy.

 “Everyone who’s taken a shower has had a great idea. It’s the person who gets out of the shower, dries off and does something about it who makes a difference.” -Nolan Bushnell, Founder of Atari

Bosses lose enthusiasm for idea people with no action. Don’t dump your idea on them; take responsibility for how it can happen and then…

7. Share your role in making this happen.

If you’ve got a great idea, don’t just bring a plan. Be willing to put skin in the game to ensure it will happen. Assuming you’ve taken care of #1, saying “Here’s exactly what needs to happen, and here’s how I see my role and what I can do to help” is a great way to get your boss excited.

See also: The Delicate Art of Persuading Your Boss

leadership competencies: how to hold a great interview

How to Interview For Winning Leadership Competencies

You’re working hard to build a Winning Well culture. You’ve identified your MIT leadership competencies and are working to cultivate and encourage the right behaviors. How you staff your key leadership roles matters more now than ever.

How will you identify the very best candidates for reinforcing your Winning Well culture?  How will you identify the candidates who really exhibit Winning Well leadership competencies, versus those who just talk a good game?

Be sure you’re asking strategic questions that require candidates to share how they’ve actually demonstrated the leadership competencies you’re selecting for.

Here a few strategic, behavior-based interview questions based on eight key behaviors we build in our Winning Well training programs. and keynote speeches.

We encourage you to weave a few of them into your next interview.

Winning Well Leadership Interview Guide


how to help your middle managers find their sweet spot

Tell me about a time when you had way too much to do—how did you decide what was most important? How did you prioritize? What was the outcome?

Describe three ways you work to communicate and reinforce expectations on your team.

Tell me about at a time you helped turn around a serious performance issue. What was your approach? What was the outcome?

play the game don't game the score

What metrics do you use to measure your success in your current role? How do you keep your team focused on achieving those outcomes?

What do you see as the most critical behaviors in this new position? How would you go about reinforcing them?

Can you tell me about a time a supervisor wanted you to focus on something you knew wasn’t a priority for your customer, your team, or the company? How did you handle it? What was the outcome?


Describe the best team you ever worked on. What was your role in making it a success?

When you are working on a strategic project in your current job, how do you go about identifying the relevant stakeholders? How do you get them involved?

Can you tell me about a time you joined a new team and how you built trust with your new teammates?

trust the trenches

Tell me about a project where you successfully delegated some important tasks. How did you decide what to delegate and to whom?

How do you help your team recover from setbacks?

Can you share a time where one of your team members had a new perspective and how you were able to incorporate it into your work?


what makes you a rock star in your role? What makes you a rock star in your current role? How would you leverage those strengths in this new position?

Tell me about a time you had to make a tough decision with limited information. What was the situation? How did you approach it?

What are your favorite techniques for building confidence and competence in your team members?

ditch the diaper drama #WinningWellTell me about a time you had a really tough conversation with an employee. How did you approach it? What was the outcome?

Describe a decision you made that was unpopular and you how implemented it.  What was the situation? Who was involved? What did you do? What was the outcome?

Can you share a time when you seriously disagreed with your boss and were convinced you were right? How did you address it? What was the outcome?


Own the UglyWhat’s the biggest mistake you’ve ever made at work? How did you recover?

Describe a time a project you were leading did not turn out as you had hoped.  What was the situation? Who was involved? What did you do? What was the outcome?

What is the most difficult apology you’ve ever had to make at work? What made it challenging? How did you do it?

What tools and techniques do you use to get feedback from your team?

How would you describe your conflict style? Tell me about a time that you had a significant conflict at work where that style served you well. Tell me about a time when that style got in the way.

Who are your most important stakeholders in your current role? How do you go about getting feedback from them?

Some other innovative interview questions that help uncover leadership competencies

Inc. 9 Interview Questions You Need to Be Asking

LinkedIn: Hiring For Trust: 9 Interview Questions

Fast Company: 7 Interview Questions for Measuring Emotional Intelligence

Your Turn

What are some of your favorite interview questions to ensure you have leaders that are committed to Winning Well?

How to Get Noticed as a Leader– Before You’ve Led a Team

How do you get noticed a leader before you’ve led a team?

Last week “John” shared his “No Diaper Genie!” frustration in the middle of our high-potential leadership development program.

Yeah, I get that I’m here… and the company is investing in me and all that. But my boss keeps saying, “You’re not ready to be promoted, you’ve never led a team. I can’t recommend you for that particular promotion now, give it time”

but the truth is, my job is 18 times more complex than any front-line supervisor. I’m neck-deep in a complex organizational structure doing really strategic work and making an impact. How do I get noticed?”

Flashback to about 20 years ago, when I looked at my boss, Mary Ann, and said almost EXACTLY those same words. I had a master’s degree and most of a Ph.D., I was gung ho working really long hours, thinking strategically, and contributing in any way that I could.

And she said the words I found remarkably frustrating and stupid at the time…

Karin, “What’s for you won’t miss you. We’ve got a lot of old-fashioned ways of thinking and being around here… but you’re bigger than all that. Stay the course. Show up as the leader you think the guys three levels up should be.”

And so I did. And as it turns out, Mary Ann was right. It didn’t miss me.

Five Ways to Get Noticed As a Leader Before You’ve Led a Team

Be so good it’s hard to notice. Here are five ways to make a leadership impact before you have a team.

  1. Master the art of the tough conversation.
    Be the guy that can give tough feedback to peers, project team members and even your boss in a way that makes them feel valued and grateful. People will then seek you out as a trusted advisor). Here’s a tool that can help INSPIRE feedback model for project managers For some additional inspiration, you can see part of my Managing the Art of the Tough Conversation keynote here.
  2. Rock your role.
    Yes, yes, you’ve heard this from me before (see related advice here).  But I can’t tell you how many people come to me each week frustrated that they’re not at the next level, and when I ask about their current performance they shrug that off because “they’re bored and ready for more.”  Not a chance. I would never promote you if you’re not showing up consistently as a high-performer, and neither should your boss.
  3. Be sure every meeting you attend is better because you were there.
    You can pull that off in a variety of ways: help keep the team on track by separating “Where are we going?” conversations “How will we get there?” discussions; help to clarify and summarize action items, “Who will do what by when and how will we know?” Invite softer spoken team members to offer their contributions.  See more ideas for running effective meetings here.
  4. Keep your boss informed of your strategic contribution.
    When done well, it’s not bragging. It’s useful– and when you’re adding more value, so are they. Here’s a free huddle planner to help you have more productive one-on-ones with your boss.
  5. Practice Two-level thinking.
    When faced with a difficult business problem or when you’re asked to do something that feels challenging think, “Why is this important to my boss’ boss?” If you can’t come up with a good answer, ask your immediate manager to help you think it through. Everyone wants to have team members who “get it” and want to make a more strategic impact on the business.

If you want to stand out as a leader, don’t wait until you have a formal title. Leading without authority is the best way to stand out “as a natural” and get noticed for what you bring to the scene.

3 ways to convince your boss you're a rock star

Three Behaviors That Will Convince Your Boss You’re a Rock Star

Yesterday “Doug,” a participant in one of our Winning Well workshops, asked, “Karin, How do I convince my boss I’m a rock star?  I mean, if I were to walk into your office right now with the goal of convincing you I’m a rock star, what behaviors would get your attention? Because I really am a high performer, but I’m not sure my boss sees it.”

I’m always intrigued by what comes out of the other end of my microphone in a keynote during spontaneous Q & A— the raw advice bubbling straight from my heart without the benefit of the backspace key.

So, here’s my answer to Doug, and for you if you’re looking to make a bigger impact.

How to Convince Your Boss You’re a Rock Star

 Of course, the table stakes are integrity—a reputation of doing what you say.  Treating human beings you encounter with deep respect. And a history of sustained results over time. On top of that my big three are…

Are You Gung-Ho?

Of course, I’d never tell an interview candidate “You’re just not gung ho,” but I can spot an all-in, positive spirit within the first few minutes of an interaction with another human being. “Gung ho” can take many forms: the quiet introvert who comes prepared with a spreadsheet of our biggest organizational challenges and his thoughts for fixing them; the passionate extrovert sharing stories of customer turn-around efforts she’s led; or the eager employee bringing new ideas for a special project.“Gung ho” means you’re as excited about this work as I am—and you’re ready to give this job everything you’ve got to be successful.

Do You Offer Solutions?

Let me be clear, “gung ho” is necessary but not sufficient to hit the “convince your boss”  Karin Hurt rock-star radar. There’s always a long line of people “gung ho” with ideas of what I could do to make things better. I want to know what you’re eager to do and how you’re planning to do it. True rock stars bring solutions—not just problems. They view constraints as creative challenges, not roadblocks. They’re willing to try new approaches and are resilient and determined to overcome setbacks.

Do You Have the Respect of Your Peers?

Even if you’re gung-ho and full of creative solutions—if you’re driving your peers batty, something is amiss. And no—it’s not because you’re that much better than everybody else (and if you even hint that you believe that—I’m not buying your “I’m a rock star” sales pitch.) It’s impossible to Win Well in the long run without trust, collaboration, and sharing of best practices. I’d take a team of B+ performers who know how to truly collaborate over a few smart lone rangers every time.

If you’re looking to convince your boss you’re a rock star, show up with confidence in your skills and the willingness to go the extra mile to make an impact, along with the humility to know what’s broken and how you can help. Be committed to achieving breakthrough results through collaborative relationships.

That’s Winning Well.

Other Thoughts on Managing Your Relationship With Your Boss

How to Talk With Your Boss When You Totally Disagree

How To Get Your Boss Excited About Your Idea

Convince Your Boss: 11 Ways to Get Them to Say Yes

How to Work With an Indecisive Boss

The Best Damn Doer Syndrome: Why the Hardest Workers Seldom Get Promoted

Are you working too hard?

Does everything fall apart when you’re not around?

Do you find yourself bailing out your boss, your peers, and your team?

If you can answer YES to any of these questions, it’s likely you’re being held back by the “Best Damn Doer” syndrome.

Be careful.

I know. I’ve felt the guilt of being promoted over people working longer and harder than me.

I’ve also promoted the “right candidate” over the one with the most sweat equity in the game.

And the other night, I had one of my clients ask me to help “John,” his high-potential “best damn doer.”

“John’s the go-to for everyone, he adds huge value AND it’s holding him and the business back. How do we get him past being ‘the best damn doer?'”

5 Ways to Overcome Being the Best Damn Doer

The Best Damn Doers are the glue, the lynch-pins, the guys or gals who consistently win the awards…. AND yet are frustrated when year over year their less “competent” peers get promoted.

If this sounds like you, here are a few ways to back away from the grind and add additional value to the team–and your career.

  1. Start with a Heart-to-Heart with Your Boss
    Bosses love the go-to guy. I know. I’ve had them on speed-dial for years. But the truth is, your boss is likely the same person coaching you to “delegate more and be more strategic.” Even when it’s your boss asking for you to be doing the doing, pause and explain how you’re working to develop your team. Commit to setting clear expectations and inspecting outcomes, but resist the urge to be the one to take care of it, even if it’s your boss doing the asking.
  2. Build Skills Before the Fire Drill
    When the crap’s hitting the fan, it’s hard to hand over the reins. Bring your team in early and often in low-stake situations. Get them ready.
  3. Delegate Well
    In Winning Well, we offer lots of tools to help in this arena. Be sure you’re delegating process not outcome, defining the finish line, and are holding people accountable.
  4. Ask Great Questions
    The best way to get your team thinking is to ask not tell. One secret to great leadership is getting your team thinking along the same wavelength. Ask your team open ended questions that encourage them to find solutions (if you’re reading Winning Well, see pages 135-139 for a useful list.)
  5. Be a Curious Learner
    Ask your team to teach you what they know. You might be surprised by their knowledge and approach. Then your coaching is gravy.

Bottom line. The more you can replicate your best damn doer skills, the better the results, for your organization, the team, and for your career.

Step away from the doing, and watch the magic.

How to Not Screw Up Your Career– #WinningWell in Fast Company

You’re working hard to build a good reputation as a manager. So you’re taking on new projects and delegating certain tasks to others. You think you’re getting the hang of it, but then you make a remark that seems to rub someone the wrong way—and you aren’t sure why.

Being decisive and knowing how to say no are important leadership skills, but handled the wrong way, they can come off as excuses that can damage your career. Managers need to lead with confidence, humility, and a long-term focus on building relationships. That means being vigilant about avoiding these statements or anything that sounds like them. Read more at Fast Company


Our new Winning Well landing page is here, including the opportunity to download a few chapters for free, and to Winning Well-3Dorder customized, autographed bookplates as a thank you for pre-orders. Click here to see more. Also please know that CEO Reads is offering a nice discount for quantity orders.

I’m working on my Spring Winning Well Speaking tour. Please contact me if you would be interested in a keynote, workshop, or virtual training.


8 Ways to Refresh Your Career in the New Year

If you’re like me, at this point, the holiday hoopla already feels like a distant memory; you’re invigorated by the possibilities for the year ahead; and perhaps just a bit overwhelmed by the the stretch-goals in front of you. You’re neck-deep in planning and goal setting. If you’re a people manager, you’re likely meeting with your team to establish performance agreements and developmental plans. Excellent. Don’t forget about you.

8 Ways to Refresh Your Career in the New Year

The new year is the perfect time to step back and take some tangible actions to invest in your career. Here are 8 ways to get you started.

  1. Identify one fear to overcome.
    We’ve all got them–the one area of our life that would improve if only we weren’t too scared. How would your career (and life) improve if this were the year you got past it? Start by writing it down. This year I’ll have the courage to _______. Then tell someone about your plan. The best way to build real confidence is to succeed at something that scares you.
  2. Take an honest inventory of what’s working and where you’re stuck.
    What were the three behaviors that most helped your career and your professional brand in 2015? Which three behaviors got in the way? What, specifically, can you do to continue more of the beneficial behaviors and reduce (or eliminate) the non-productive or career damaging ones?
  3. Update your LinkedIn profile.
    Yes, you should. I’m working with a company now that recently announced an 8000 person reduction. Many of those folks now scrambling to build the next phase of their career have admitted that they hadn’t really worried about their LinkedIn profile before. Here are some hints to get you started.
  4. Identify your big win.
    You have lots of goals and objectives to achieve this year, I get that. But it’s worth identifying the one area where you’re going to absolutely turn heads. What will you achieve this year that will be worth a champagne toast and others swarming to you to learn your secrets?  What can you and your team achieve that will really change the game? If you manage people, this is a great conversation to have in one of your first meetings of the year.
  5. Clear out the clutter.
    A Gartner survey found that an average employee can spend up to $4800 just looking for stuff. Now before any of my awesome administrative assistants who’ve supported me over the years start leaving pithy comments, let me admit I’m terrible at this. So, instead of telling you how…. here’s a nice resource on the topic.
  6. Build a networking plan.
    Make a list of people you would like to know better, and identify one way you can help them or make their job easier. I’m also a big believer in “just because” networking. Imagine the possibilities if you took a deliberate approach to getting to know a bit more about the folks you encounter as you go through your day (on the plane, at the gym, in that class you’re taking). There’s awesome power in the strength of weak ties.
  7. Make your reading list.
    A study from the University of Sussex found that reading as little as six minutes a day can reduce your stress levels by 68%.  Most CEOs I know read (including me) read at least four books a month.  Of course I recommend Winning Well for April (learn why here). Inc also has an interesting list of books recommended by high-profile CEOs.
  8. Get feedback
    Whether you use a simple DIY approach to 360 development or invest a little more in a formal process like the one included in my online course, Results that Last, the best way to improve is to truly understand the perceptions of others. 360s can help you identify small behavior changes that can go a long way in building trust and improving communications.

You have the power to make 2016 remarkable.

5 Creative Ways To Make Your Resume Stand Out

You’re no ordinary candidate, so why settle for a yawner of a resume? Long gone are the days of fancy creamy vanilla paper as the go-to standard. Most resumes are emailed and viewed online. So ditch the old-school approach and leverage the latest technology to make your resume pop.

5 Ways to Make Your Resume Pop

1. Name Your Brand

Begin with few word branding statement that describes your unique brand. Define what makes you stand out as the go-to candidate. Sally Hogshead has a great TED Talk on how to be “fascinating” in a few words or less. If you want a more in-depth view, her book “How the World Sees You” is also a great resource.

2. Create an Infographic

There are few hot new FREE sites (some still in beta) that enable you to import your LinkedIn profile to create info-graphics and visual maps of your experiences and timelines. is super easy (I created my profile in about 20 minutes). I had to laugh, you can even get your “resume” printed on a tee-shirt (heck, you never know when that may be just the right gimic). To get uber-fancy you can create a robust infographic. To do it well takes a bit more of a time investment, but if I were in the job market I would go this route. Their online stuff is all free, but if you want to print it, you pay a nominal fee. If you want to use traditional infographic tools, this post gives some great advice on what to include.

3. Make Your LinkedIn Profile Sizzle

LinkedIn is still the first place most recruiters go. The good news is the sites come a long way in the last year. You can now upload video, podcasts, images and other examples of your work. I’ve taken advantage of a lot of this (all with their free service), if it helps as an example, click here.

4. Use Power Words

If all this sounds too sexy, and you want to stay old-school, at least use some power words to strengthen the pull. Jennifer Miller introduced me to this GREAT infographic from ZipRecruiter. They analyzed 3 million resumes and correlated them with managers ratings of “5 star.” Power words include: “experience”, “management,” “project.” Weak words such as “me” “myself” “need” “hard” and “learn” should be avoided.

5. Focus on RESULTS not actions

Whatever you do, don’t just have a list of jobs you’ve done. You wouldn’t believe how many resumes I see that still suffer from this number one no no. For more see 5 Questions Your Resume Must Answer and 15 Things You Should Never Put In a Cover Letter Cover Letter 

Pursue My Dream

5 Reasons I Quit My Day Job to Pursue My Dream

Yup, I really did quit my day job to pursue my dream full time.  I will spend my days helping companies eliminate destructive, energy-sucking leadership practices and instead grow confident, competent and creative leaders at every level.

I’ve been engrossed in a 45-day transition to ensure my team doesn’t miss a beat. The true sign of leadership is what happens when the leader walks away. Although the “walking away” part is heartbreaking, the running toward is exhilarating. I will miss my magical team.

Early Reactions as I Announced I Was Leaving to Pursue My Dream

As news spread through my teams at work and with the external strategic companies with whom I partner, nearly everyone has had a similar reaction curve.

  1. Shock – Are you kidding, no one walks away from a great gig like that. What about those long-term incentives you’re leaving on the table?
  2. Sadness – I’m blessed to have built deep connections with so many people whom I care about deeply. We will really miss one another and the outcomes of our collaboration.
  3. Stirring – Wow, look at your eyes when you talk about this. You really are following your calling. I know this your true passion. Good for you.
  4. Support – How can I best help you?

Thank you to all who have been on this curve with me through the last few weeks.

Building Momentum: The Path to Go Pursue My Dream

I’d like to say that the last few years of writing and speaking were all a deliberate strategic building towards this moment.

But the truth is, I felt the pull and stayed open to possibilities. The exhilaration of the momentum became too hard to resist. I began waking up early and rushing to the computer to see what my email would bring. I felt alive and full of meaning with the growing connections of kindred spirits and leaders needing support.

The long hours and travel to do my leadership role well and the time needed to serve the Let’s Grow Leaders pursuits became too much to sustain. I had to choose. It was time to do what I felt most called to do. And so I offer some of the behind-the-scenes momentum that helped turn the dream into reality.

1. Building A Financial Foundation

When I was in my late twenties with a small baby and a big mortgage, my husband lost his job. My salary could not cover the mortgage payment, let alone the other expenses, and our entire savings had gone to the down payment. We ate a lot of noodles. That early experience taught me to never let my lifestyle outgrow my savings. I vowed to save enough that my bags could be “packed,” and not be overly dependent on any company.

2. Building Genuine Relationships

The most exhilarating part of this journey has been the amazing kindred spirits I’ve met along the way. I have strong leadership values which sometimes leave me swimming upstream. It’s been awesome to connect with other schools of like-minded fish fighting the same battle.

3. Building On The Basics

For the last 3 years, I’ve had the opportunity to work closely with some amazing human beings in other companies as I’ve led our Strategic Partnership Channel.

For the first time, more of my time was spent thinking about other companies and the leaders inside them, than at my own company, and it was FUN!  With an incubator of over 25 call centers and 10,000 human beings,

I can now absolutely prove that the centers that are led with fear and pressure can’t sustain results, and some have collapsed.  But when leaders empower their people, built great cultures, and lead with transparency, the results all trend upward, the scorecards become balanced, and employees care about their work.

Great frontline leaders and the systems to support them is the foundation of real success. I’m humbled to have been a part of some amazing turnarounds. I feel called to share these gifts more broadly.

4. Building Bridges

Read any book on graceful exits and they’ll tell you not to “burn bridges.”

What this experience has taught me that the real secret is to build and care for strong bridges throughout your career. Help as many people as you can. Treat everyone you meet with deep respect. Care about the whole person and their scene. I’ve been amazed at how people are surfacing from every stage in my career with offers of help and support.

“Let me introduce you to…”

“I can help you build your business plan…”

“My wife and I would be delighted to take a vacation and come sell books at the back of your conference.”

Cheerleaders are everywhere with open arms.

5. Building Confidence

– It’s never going to feel like exactly the right time. If I wanted to have been talked out of this, there were plenty offering to do that. The “have you thought about” and “what if” questions could easily have scared me back to security. I finally realized that the real risk would be to not offer the world what I now feel I must give.

We must be willing to be shaken up, to submit ourselves to the dark blossomings of chaos, in order to reap the blessings of growth.
~ -Gregg Levoy, Callings

Amen. Thank you to my wonderful Let’s Grow Leaders community who have been a large part of this journey so far. Game on. Stay tuned for more updates on what’s next in the coming weeks. Namaste.

5 Reasons Your Great Boss Is Hurting Your Career

Like other good things in life, a great boss relationship, taken to extremes, can wreak havoc with your career. I’ve seen otherwise smart and talented people lose credibility by over-aligning with a great boss. Be sure to diversify your relationship investments. Perhaps you’ll recognize these career-derailing characters. Avoid these common traps.

Great Boss Traps

The Coat Tail Rider

On the surface it feels like the perfect symbiotic relationship. You’re her right hand guy. You work hard and always achieve results. She gets promoted to a new department, and she brings you over. It’s comforting for her to have a someone familiar she can rely on, and you get a promotion, or a new assignment. Win-win, right? Then it happens again, and again. Sweet deal?

Although it’s comfortable and feels like the fast track, beware of riding coat tails, particularly into more than one assignment. Your identity will become enveloped within your more powerful, great boss. People will begin to see you as a package deal. If her career derails, so will yours.

Also, the best leadership growth comes from working with a variety of leaders. Although the devil you know feels easy, you’re both limiting the growth you would get from working with a wider variety of leaders. Better to let your relationship morph into a mentoring relationship, or friendship, while you each continue to pursue the next steps of your career.

The Mini Me

Your great boss is successful, so you work to emulate his every move. You begin dressing more like him and picking up mannerisms. After all, it works for him, why not you? In fact, you may not even notice you’re doing it. Trust me, others do.

No matter how great a leader your great boss is, resist the urge to lead like him. Your best leadership will come when you lead from a place of deep authenticity.   No one wants to follow a copy-cat.

The Tag Along

Your great boss is looking to develop you, and has your best interest at heart, so he brings you along a lot: to the big meetings, to the charity fundraiser… to happy hour. When there’s a company function, there you are right by his side. You always find your way to his table at dinner.

After all, powerful people hang out with other powerful people, right? Be careful. Some such exposure is healthy but over-exposure will burn. Give your peers a chance for the face time. Be deliberate in getting to know other people at those functions. It’s harder, sure, but the widened network will be invaluable.

The Name Dropper

When you’re trying to get stuff done, it’s tempting to just throw around your bosses name. “Karin said this MUST be done by tomorrow at 5.” Weak leaders hide behind the power of other leaders. Even if your boss is the one asking for something to be done, resist the urge to use that muscle. In the long run you’ll have much more credibility when you own your asks.

The Good Soldier

Your great boss says jump, you say how high… every time. You trust him. Now of course, there’s a time and a place for good soldiering, but real leaders know when to question and put on the brakes. Sure your boss may reward you for your consistent execution of her directives, but she’ll be amazed when you challenge her with innovation and suggest creative, and better alternatives.

Work to build a fantastic relationship with your great boss, but beware of such co-dependencies. What feels easy and comfortable, could damage your career in the long run.