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This weekend was a big deal at my house.                                             

My soon-to-be 1st grader got to pick out school supplies and my 3-year old got a big boy bed. It was excitement all around. Happy, smiling faces. Self-assured, confident walks. Mutual admiration for each others milestones.

I watched these two strut around the whole weekend cocksure and grinning, all the while my husband and I continued to praise them for their accomplishments, increasing their excitement and joy. I wondered, “Gee, do we grown ups celebrate little victories as robustly as kids do?”. I don’t think so. At least, I don’t, nor do the folks I know around me. We more or less brush them off. Oh well, big deal.

So, why is that? When you get a promotion at work do you celebrate? If you’ve recently run a race, taken (and passed) a test, been awarded something, etc. do you celebrate or tell people? I know most people definitely brag about their children’s victories before they do their own.

It’s important to pat yourself on the back or give yourself credit. When you’ve worked hard for something, you DESERVE to be rewarded or praised. Just as we treat our children, friends, and family with praise when they succeed at something, we should do the same with ourselves. Praise yourself and live joyfully in your moment.

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Editors Note: Kristi Musgrave is a colleague and friend of mine, as well as today’s Guest Blogger. She has oodles of management experience and tells us what it’s like to be on the other side of the desk. Here is some good advice on what NOT to say during an interview.

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“You won’t believe this,” he said. “What?” I asked. “We just had a candidate offer to show the hiring manager his gun shot wound.”

Why do people do this? Is it nerves? Do they just not know any better? Why do people share too much or inappropriate information during job interviews?

For the past 10 years I’ve had the opportunity to interview a variety of people and I am still amazed at what they will discuss during an interview. I’ve heard about fights with family members, pets that have died, and mean bosses. I’ve even been asked if I have a prosthetic eye. I don’t by the way.

The purpose of an interview is to assess a candidate’s suitability for a job. A significant part of that assessment will be based on what you say during the interview. Avoid discussing personal information unrelated the position. Discuss your experience, the skills you have that make you well suited for the position, and why you are the best candidate.

Rachel Zupek, a writer for careerbuilder.com offers this advice  (you can read the full article here):

Go ahead with the following personal info:

  • Goals – It’s OK to talk about what you want in your next assignment and what inspired you to apply for the position.
  • Growth – You can and should talk about the things you’ve done up to this point to invest in yourself and your professional development.
  • Highlights – Relate the highlights of your greatest professional achievements to date without exaggerating or pontificating.
  • Motivations - Talk about what motivates you, excites you, what brought you to that particular industry and what attracted you to that specific employment opportunity.

Do not delve into these personal topics during your interview.

  • Lifestyle choices, politics, religion or family plans. Controversial topics may make for stimulating conversation but an attractive employee does not stimulate water-cooler frenzy among the masses.
  • Endless name dropping. You can establish that you know some of the same people as the interviewer to build rapport, but don’t think you’re upping the ante by upping the volume.
  • Health history. Stay away from your health history mental and otherwise. You’re supposed to be positioning yourself as dependable and reliable; not as a candidate likely to spike the bell curve on benefit-related expenses.
  • House problems, nanny drama or rehab trips. Employers don’t want to know much about your life except as it relates to what you’ve done professionally and what you’re likely able to do for them.
  • Bosses from hell. Simply put, no prospective boss wants to hear a litany of “boss from hell” stories.


So, unless you’re interviewing for a position as nude model for a sculpting class, discussing your gunshot wound is way too much information for a job interview. Keep your answers professional and focused on your skills and experience as it relates to the position.  Good luck at your interview.

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Kristi Musgrave is a Senior Validation Engineer with the Validation and Compliance Institute, LLC. She provides cGMP training, validation, and auditing services for the FDA regulated industries.  You can reach Kristi at musgrak@gmail.com

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Cover letters seem to be difficult for people, even resume writers. Why is that? What makes a good cover letter?

Cover letters can be fun to write. There really aren’t many ‘rules’ to writing them. You can let your personality shine through. They allow you to positively present your skills, accomplishments, and credentials in a way that will encourage the reader to want to read even more about you (and then move on to the resume). There are lots of  things I can get into in more depth (types of resumes, scope, presentation, who your audience is, etc.) but for now, I am just going to touch on the basics. In future posts, I will dissect cover letters more closely.

Here are some easy ideas to keep in mind when writing your cover letter:

  • Make sure your intention is clear. In other words, what is the job you are applying for? Clearly state it. Don’t make the reader guess. You could say something like, “…and this is why my qualifications make me a perfect match for the Sales Management position”.
  • Highlight your top achievements. You don’t have to rewrite everything you wrote in the resume, just summarize some of your top accomplishments. Wow them with what you have done.
  • Add your relevant skills or qualifications. Let the reader know what you excel at and what you are capable of. This is a great place to talk about any extra credentials or training you’ve had that relate to the position.
  • Write toward the position you are applying for. When preparing the cover letter, keep in mind the requirements of the position and add your qualifications that match them.
  • Explain what it is you like about the company. Remember, you are trying to woo the company, so tell them what you like about them. Is it the reputation, products/services, location? Let them know why you like them.
  • You are not writing your autobiography. Keep it short, simple and factual. You don’t need to go into why the last job didn’t work out, “…my boss had unrealistic expectations of the staff, so I decided to check out my options…:. Don’t air your dirty laundry or obvious dislike of your most recent employer. Keep it professional.
  • Double check the entire document for accuracy, errors, and syntax. You don’t want to miss a great opportunity because you wrote, “Dear Hiring Manger”.

Another tip is to save that cover letter, copy and paste it onto a new document, and tweak it for another type of position you may be interested in. I encourage clients to have several “focused” cover letters for different positions they might have in mind. This way, if an opportunity presents itself, you are ready!

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Kendall SummerHawk is a million-dollar marketing coach and author of the book, “Brilliance Unbridled”. She teaches consultants, speakers, coaches, and small business owners to manage their businesses smartly while following their soul’s desire.

I was “introduced” to Kendall last year and have been a big fan ever since. She isn’t just for business owners, but for everyone who wants to succeed in what they do. She talks about our pre-programmed MO-ney mindsets and how to change our thoughts about money–creating more and receiving it. Her “bold money goal” helped me triple my income in a year. You need to sign up for her free newsletter. It is fantastic!

Look for more guest posts from Kendall in the future. Love this woman!

Here she is: Kendall SummerHawk.

“The recent economic news is truly scaring the you-know-what out of people. The reason is not the “facts” presented by the media, but because underneath those facts is the thinly veiled threat that on an individual level, our personal safety and security is at jeopardy.

The news triggers fear that has been lying dormant in us, like a beast, just waiting to be fed. This beast grows stronger with every passing news article, late-breaking t.v. spot or report of more workers affected by the actions of a few greedy, short-sighted people.

The beast of fear keeps us down. It gnaws at our confidence like a dog on a bone. It whispers in our ear that to be afraid is to be safe. It wants us to worry because when we do, it grows stronger.

But the beauty of the beast is that it is, right now, providing us with the perfect opportunity to eradicate your fear, once and for all. Your fear doesn’t serve you, it only serves the beast.

This is a time not just in our nation’s history, but in your own personal history, to strengthen your core faith in who you are, what you bring to the world and in life itself.

My clients are continuing to make great mo-ney (one just signed on two new clients worth $10,000 EACH who both paid in full!) because they listen to their heart, where the beast can’t live. They listen to me, because they know I will always tell them the truth. And the truth is, that shrinking back from investing in yourself and your business will only feed the beast and will keep you from being paid (and paid well) for and fulfilling your Soul’s Divine Purpose.

So turn off the news, stop feeding the beast and instead look for signs of prosperity, abundance and success. They are everywhere and I challenge you to find FIVE such signs every day!”

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“Would you like to learn more simple ways entrepreneurs can brand, package and price their services to quickly move away from ‘dollars-for-hours work’ and create more money, time, and freedom in their businesses? Check out my web site, http://www.KendallSummerHawk.com, for free articles, free resources and to sign up for my free audio mini-seminar “7 Simple Steps to Create Your Multiple Streams of In-come “Money and Soul” Business.”

Award-winning small business expert Kendall SummerHawk is the “Million Dollar Marketing Coach.”

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Ever have one of those moments when you are emailing someone, send off the email, and then think, ‘did I sound harsh/dumb/silly/desperate/bored ___? ‘ (feel free to fill in the blank with your own adjective).

These days, an online presence is more important than ever for job seekers and entrepreneurs. It’s a lightening fast way to develop connections, cultivate friendships, and foster online community collaborations and support. Whether it’s emailing, IM’ing, DM’ing, tweeting, or texting– especially if we don’t know the other person in real life– it’s important to remember your tone.

Certain aspects of your “tone” can mean certain things, or certain words you say could mean something different to another. Evaluate how you want to be perceived and how to write in a way that will get your message across the way you want. If the wrong tone is perceived, the reader may become offended. Whether subtle or loud, tone is attitude.

A few simple tips include:

1- Don’t write in ALL CAPS. It implies yelling.

2-Avoid emails that make assumptions, “I’m sure you agree..”

3-Try to avoid sarcasm or slang. It may not come across as you would like it to.People have different types of humor. Yours might come across to them as rude.

4-If you are emailing to a global audience (international jobs), avoid using words that other countries may not understand, i.e. “my bad”, “what’s up”, “what’s happening?!”, etc.

5- Use spell check and grammar check. If emailing to prospective employers, as always, it’s important to keep an eye out for spelling or syntax errors.

Your tone is like your body language, so be sure to have it in check when emailing people you want to impress. Sit up, look alive, smile and send online correspondence with confidence.

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I realize as I write this that I am crabby and tired. Probably not the most optimal time to write a blog post. Whatever. But wait, maybe this IS the best time to write this because later, in my defense, I can just say ‘Oh, well, gee… I was just going on 3 1/2 hours sleep, over-caffeinated, and bitchy irritable. What can I say?’  However, for the sake of my readers, I will be gentle.

Dear New Client, it is not necessary, through the process of our resume writing collaboration together, to send me over 65 pages of information. Yes, this is not the norm, and yes, it is probably my fault that I didn’t turn off the fax machine as it sent through 48 pages (52 to be exact, but it ran out of ink on page 48) of your performance evaluation over the last 25+ years. I should have, but it came through at night. Performance appraisals are a good thing. Summarizing what was said over the past, oh, 5-10  years might be a better idea.

Your 10-page, white space-deprived, executive IT resume is a tad on the long side. It truly isn’t necessary to list all of your technical experience dating back to the early 80’s, especially since your role now is an executive one and you hardly get your hands wet anymore with the “meat” of the projects.

I appreciate that you took the time to compile all of your hobbies and interests, but employers usually don’t want to review your various scout awards, high school GPA, birth date, wife’s favorite color, or a link to your personal website filled with just plain weird different pictures of your ceramic turtle collection.

The information in your resume should be relevant to your job search and your personal brand. However, you don’t want to load down your resume with too much information. I know there is a fine line for some people, and it’s hard to distinguish what should stay and what should go. If you are unsure, you should always ask a professional.

On that note, I bid you good night, Gentle Reader. I must get back to work and finish up this whining resume advice session. I hope I was able to help clarify the good, the bad and the not needed of information gathering.

Until next time…

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Ever have one of those days where you just want to throw your computer out the window, or walk out the door and never come back? OK, if you haven’t then you either have an awesome job– or are unemployed. But even the very best of jobs get stressful. The boss is being a jerk, a coworker took the credit for something you did, or you just woke up on the wrong side of the bed. Sometimes, we just need a do-over.

R.J. Ignelzi, a Union-Tribune Staff writer, wrote a fantastic article, “Give stress a rest-simple, quick relaxation techniques to help tackle tension”.  No time for a long, hot bath or a trip to the spa? R.J’s ideas are quick and easy to do–at home, work, or even in your car. Here are some suggestions:

At Work or School

  • Soothe weary computer eyes. Rub palms together vigorously to create heat and place them over your eyes for a full minute. (Wow. Must try!!)
  • Squeeze a rubber ball in your hand for 3 seconds and release.
  • Try Quickie Yoga. Sit up straight in your chair and let your arms drop limp at your sides. Inhale, and on the exhale, lean forward and rest your chest on your thighs. Remain there for 5 seconds then slowly come up and inhale. Repeat 3 or 4 times, or until your colleagues make fun of you.
  • Give yourself a mini hand massage. Grab the lotion in your desk and knead your tired fingers. (Now close your eyes and pretend you are at a spa… ahhhh)
  • Fake a smile. Studies show positive effects occur even if the smile is fake.
  • Keep aromatherapy oils at your desk. Lavender and mint work wonders. (I have been studying and using aromatherapy for 13 years and find it works miracles when having a bad day, can’t get the brain moving, need to relax, or need to perk up. Very beneficial for every aspect of your life.)
  • Take deep breath throughout the day. This will keep you relaxed and relieve any tension that has built up.

At home

  • Hold hands with a loved one. (Human touch calms us down)
  • Call a friend. (Get the day’s scoop!)
  • Stroke or brush your pet. (Good for both of you!)
  • Give yourself a mini scalp massage. (I do this ALL THE TIME. Tension drains away)
  • Soak a hand towel and microwave it a couple of minutes until steamy. Apply to neck, forehead or achy lower back.
  • Turn up the music and dance. (I do this at lunch time w/my kids– we all love it)
  • Keep a daily gratitude journal.

R.J. also goes on to talk about relaxing in your vehicle and while shopping (shopping stressful? No way!).  You can read the entire article here.

I feel much better already, don’t you?

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In today’s competitive market it is vital that you have a resume that will stand out and catch the attention of the reader.  Creating a resume from a Microsoft Word template won’t do. Neither will copying off your co-workers resume. You need a branded, unique resume that defines who you are, your accomplishments, your credentials and what you can do for them.  A certified professional resume writer will do this for you. They know what it takes to get you noticed. So, the question is… who do you choose? There are new resume companies popping up all over the place so you need to get picky and have questions ready to ask the resume writer.

Here are some questions you should always ask:

1. Are you a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW)? Does being certified really matter? YES, YES, YES! Before 1990, there wasn’t a standard to which a resume writer could be judged. Now, all CPRW candidates must go through a comprehensive set of tests before achieving certification. Testing consists of 4 modules that cover several areas including industry knowledge, resume knowledge, grammar/punctuation/spelling and proofreading, strategic thinking, content use, focus, ethics, and more. NOT EVERYONE PASSES. If you are not sure, you can check: parw.com or careerdirectors.com and check to see if the writer is certified. Advanced resume certifications are also available (CERW, MRW, CARW) and offer similar types of training followed by rigorous testing. Do your homework.

Think of it this way: would you want a Dentist to replace your crown or someone who “knows a lot about teeth”?

2. How long have you been writing resumes? There are so many mom-and-pop resume writing companies popping up out there that it is blowing my mind. Because of this recession, I’ve heard of many people who got into resume writing recently because they were laid off from their sales job and “was told by friends I can write a good resume”. While that may be true, writing two resumes and writing several hundred, or even thousands are much better. Practice makes perfect. I am the first one to admit that when I first started, my writing was less than perfect. Way less. There is so much more to understand about resume writing than just putting words to paper. It can take me up to 2 days to decide the right strategy for a client–the best way for them to be positioned for optimal results. It takes time to learn this. I’m not saying someone has to be writing for 10 years to be a good writer, but I think they need actual practice before working on your resume.

3. What association(s) do you belong to? This is important for the obvious reasons. Belonging to a professional association keeps you up-to-date on so many things including resume writing strategy, client focus, new trends, industry updates and much more. In my opinion, I couldn’t imagine NOT being in them. They are a wealth of knowledge! I get to interact with other writers/business owners/career coaches, share information, pose questions and more. My favorite organizations are CDI (Career Directors International) and PARW (Professional Association of Resume Writers), but there are several others that are good, too: National Association of Resume Writers (NRWA), Career Management Alliance (CMA), and Association of Online Resume & Career Professionals  (AORCP).

4. What is your process? Most resume writers have a process i.e. information they need from you, resume strategy, structure, and time line. It’s good to know ahead of time what the writers process is. You might have developed a great rapport with a writer only to realize they won’t have it ready for 2-3 weeks and you need it in 2 days, etc.  Or they may require more from you than just your existing resume and you don’t have time for that (although I wouldn’t advise that– if you want a great resume, you have to do a little work).

5. What do you need from me? Some writers do a lot of listening and not a lot of talking, or vice versa, as do the clients. Ask the writer what information they need from you. It’s important that the process is a collaborative one with mutual information sharing. Your writer has to literally be you in order to create an effective resume that is unique and branded. So give them as much information as possible, no matter how busy you are.

These 5 tips should get you started in the right direction and hopefully help you find a writer who is the perfect fit for your needs. Good luck!

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We all hear about “persistence pays off” and “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again”. We are told to be persistent about what we want and if we really try hard enough, we’ll get it. But at whose expense? And when is it time to let go and move on?

I’ve recently come in contact with someone who wants to sell me something. This is something I’ve been thinking about buying for some time, but have taken my time because I want to be sure it is right.  I’m usually an impulse buyer (bad, I know), but this is different because it pertains to my work. So, I’ve been looking at this particular product from a new company that seems on the up and up, even though they are brand new to this market.

As I was quietly browsing online, I decided to send an email with a question. Big mistake. It started an endless stream of emails, phone calls, and more emails to try and entice me to buy. The first few emails I didn’t mind, but now it’s become a hassle. I don’t like to be rude and I don’t like hurting anyone’s feelings, because he seems like a nice fellow. So, I’ve told him gently in my emails that I wanted to think on it some more. Still, the emails haven’t stopped. Oh, the emails, the emails. Please STOP!

Now, I don’t want the dang thing anymore, I just want him to lose my email address. With his constant persistence, he has lost my sale. Not only did he lose my sale on that one product, but I will never go to the site AGAIN. Why would I chance the month’s worth of emails and aggravation?

So, when is persistence too much? When is it too much during the job search/interview process? How many times should you call the HR person/recruiter? I’ve been asked this a lot. I think post interview follow up is an excellent thing. Post interview stalking is completely different. You really only need to call once. Twice is pushing it. Chances are, they DID NOT lose your phone number/email/address, etc. They will call you when they are ready. Believe it or not, they do have other things to do in their daily work life. Sales clients tend to think, ‘if I pester them to death, they will know how great I will be in the sales position’. Ix-nay that idea. It will work against you.

I know all about impatience and just wanting to know. I am terribly impatient and tend to hurry things along to get to the prize. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned to sit back and wait for things. They usually always appear. So, rest assured, if you are the candidate they want, they will call. It might not be in your timeline, but they will call.

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Jack Canfield is one of my favorite success coaches and a pioneer in the “change your thoughts, change your life” mindset. He speaks from experience, going from making $8000 a year as a teacher, to making multi-millions as an international speaker and coach. His techniques are simple and very effective. I’ve seen my own business triple in the last year and I owe a lot of my thanks to him.  Enjoy!  –Erin


Good Things Come to Those Who Ask!

by Jack Canfield

Asking for what you need is probably the most underutilized tool for people. And yet, amazing requests have been granted to people simply because they’ve asked for it!

Whether its money, information, support, assistance, or time, most people are afraid to ask for what they need in order to make their dreams come true.

They might be afraid of looking needy, ignorant, helpless, or even greedy. More than likely though, it is the fear of rejection that is holding them back. Even though they are afraid to hear the word no, they’re already saying it to themselves by not asking!

Do you ask for what you want or are you afraid of rejection?

Consider this: Rejection is just a concept. There is really no such thing as rejection! You’re not any worse off by hearing no than you were before you asked. You didn’t have what you asked for before you asked and you still don’t, so what did you lose?

Being rejected doesn’t hold you back from anything. Only YOU hold yourself back. When you realize that there’s no merit to rejection, you’ll feel more comfortable asking for things. You may just need a bit of help learning how to ask for what you want.

How to Ask for What You Want

There’s a specific science to asking for and getting what you want or need in life. And while I recommend you learn more by studying The Aladdin Factor, here are some quick tips to get you started:

1. Ask as if you expect to get it. Ask with a positive expectation. Ask from the place that you have already been given it. It is a done deal. Ask as if you expect to get a “yes.”

2. Assume you can. Don’t start with the assumption that you can’t get it. If you are going to assume, assume you can get an upgrade. Assume you can get a table by the window. Assume that you can return it without a sales slip. Assume that you can get a scholarship, that you can get a raise, that you can get tickets at this late date. Don’t ever assume against yourself.

3. Ask someone who can give it to you. Qualify the person. Who would I have to speak to to get…Who is authorized to make a decision about…What would have to happen for me to get…

4. Be clear and specific. In my seminars, I often ask, “Who wants more money in their life?” I’ll pick someone who raised their hand and give them a quarter, asking, “Is that enough for you?”No? Well, how would I know how much you want. How would anybody know?”

You need to ask for a specific number. Too many people are walking around wanting more of something, but not being specific enough to obtain it.

5. Ask repeatedly. One of the most important Success Principles is the commitment to not give up.

Whenever we’re asking others to participate in the fulfillment of our goals, some people are going to say “no.” They may have other priorities, commitments and reasons not to participate. It’s no reflection on you.

Just get used to the idea that there’s going to be a lot of rejection along the way to the brass ring. The key is to not give up. When someone says “No”– you say “NEXT!” Why?

Because when you keep on asking, even the same person again and again…they might say “yes”…

…on a different day
…when they are in a better mood
…when you have new data to present
…after you’ve proven your commitment to them
…when circumstances have changed
…when you’ve learned how to close better
…when you’ve established better rapport
…when they trust you more
…when you have paid your dues
…when the economy is better
…and so on.

Kids know this Success Principle better than anyone. They will ask the same person over and over again without any hesitation (can you relate!).

Getting a good perspective on rejection and learning how to ask will make a world of difference for you as you work toward your goals. Practice asking and you’ll get very good at it! You’ll even speed your progress by getting what you need, or improving yourself in order to get it later.

Make a list of what you need to ask for in all areas of your life, and start asking.

Remember, ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE… if you dare to ask!

© 2009 Jack Canfield

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