This Isn’t a Legal Trial

Last night I ran a seminar called Optimizing Your Résumé for a New Year’s Job Search at the Edith Wheeler Memorial Library in Monroe, CT. The event was well attended and we covered a lot of ground in 90 minutes. There was one idea that several people had that is worth a blog post: “How do I prove my claims?”

The concern from a few people was that they were not comfortable making claims about their performance because there was no record of it having happened. In many cases the employers where the great work was done are no longer in business. The people who could confirm the claims are now difficult to contact. The performance data may be a distant memory with little more than recollection to support it. These are all valid concerns, but not a deal breaker.

It’s important to keep in mind the venue for these claims and how they will be used. If a job seeker states that as a Sales Manager she, “grew sales by 27% over 33 months and opened two new markets,” there may or may not be documentation to support the claim. If she does not have documentation, should she not include it in the résumé? Of course not! It has to be there.

Think about it this way: If a résumé were to only to contain claims that were supported by indisputable evidence, it would be a very short document. Are there things on your résumé that you don’t have evidence to support? Probably. Should you delete that information? No!

Your résumé is a marketing document. The standards are simple. Is it the truth? If yes, go for it. Can you discuss and defend it in a convincing and credible way in an interview? If yes, you’re all set!

Interviewers are looking for cultural fit and evidence of professionalism and potential. They are looking for transferable skills. If the sales increase performance from above leads to a discussion of how the candidate got the results – through market research, powerful leadership, cold calling, tenacious follow up, and other tactics – the interviewer will learn what she needs. The point is not the exact precision of performance claims, but evidence of the talent you bring to the new gig.

Remember that the standard of proof is not beyond a reasonable doubt. It’s just this: Give some stories that are credible and true that will lead to an in-depth discussion of your transferable talent and how you can help your next employer. Don’t worry that you past company got vaporized in 2008. Sell yourself!

BTW – Be sure to get your copy of 25 Résumé Tune-Up Tips, a brand new eBooklet ready for free download.

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Pancakes and Purpose

Yesterday was the Rotary Club of Monroe’s (CT) pancake breakfast. The event was hosted by the United Methodist Church of Monroe, which allowed for the use of its kitchen, dining area and equipment, with all of the effort going to support Project Warmth, a resource of Monroe Social Services that assists people with home heating oil costs. Here in New England, a heating oil delivery can easily exceed $600. To the outsider, this event may not sound like anything all that exciting as it was similar to every other pancake/chicken/spaghetti fundraiser held all over the country every weekend of the year. To those involved, though, it had significant meaning. Here’s why.

This event was nothing more than idea 30 days earlier when Jesse Treviño, the Rotary Club’s president asked, “What do you all think about having a pancake breakfast fundraiser?” The idea was kicked around the room for 20 minutes and by the time the closing bell rang (yes, Rotarians ring a bell to stop and start the meetings), we decided that we would have the breakfast on November 19 to benefit Project Warmth.

There was a lot of work to get done in a very short time. The punch list included securing a venue, making signs and posters, purchasing supplies, doing publicity work and getting up very early on the 19th to flip the first pancakes to be served at 7:30AM. Everyone – Rotarians, church members, vendors and talented restaurant owners John and Sandy Kantzas – came through as planned. About 120 people were served and Project Warmth will be able to better serve its clients. There were also intangible and meaningful benefits that speak to the value of working together.

Dave Wolfe, a long-time Rotarian and charter member of the Monroe club, mentioned how well working together on a hands-on project brings everyone together and strengthens the bonds of club members. It was a lot of hard work, but it was great fun. Others made similar observations.

Rev. Kregg Gabor, the pastor of UMC of Monroe, said that it was wonderful to see different organizations with different missions coming together for a common cause, an outward looking approach to community and service to those in need. Even the church’s middle school students saw it as an opportunity to serve by planning and running a Thanksgiving-themed coloring room so the kids could have something to do while mom and dad had the second cup of coffee and one more delicious pancake.

I thought it was spectacular to see so many talented people collaborating to make a terrific event happen in such a short time. The Rotary Club of Monroe is made up of only 15 people, but every one of them is driven, professional and purposeful. The day was a great reminder of how all of us can do so much when we have a purpose, and so much more when we work together.