results oriented

3 Rookie CV Errors that Undermine Executive Women

As women with career aspirations we're in the box seat. Not only is there a day for us - International Women's Day (#BeBoldForChange - happy #IWD2017 everyone!) but it would appear (according to the 2016 Future of Jobs Report)  we have the traits and characteristics that will be highly sought after in 2020.  

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We're one year on from the Future of Jobs Report: World Economic Forum that did the rounds at Davos in 2016. There was a handy table that itemised and contrasted the critical skills that a range of experts ranked as highly desirable for each of 2015 and 2020.

Notice how even in 2015 the top five skills tend to be more complex, nuanced and require relatively sophisticated human brain power. 

The 2020 top five are even more so with creativity making it into the top five, and emotional intelligence and service orientation moving up the list. Once again, these are nuanced, relatively complicated and subjective type skills and traits.

Selling yourself on your CV

If the future of leadership follows the future of jobs, then it's a no brainer really that you should be talking up and highlighting the complex problems you solve, the critical decisions you make and your abilities to create collaborative pathways.

Yet when I read CVs many of us are still making rookie errors - relying on outdated CV templates, stereotyped notions of leadership from the movies and a language legacy from high school.

Define success on your own terms, achieve it by your own rules, and build a life you’re proud to live.
— Anne Sweeney

So to help you develop a brand that's known for the benefits of your higher level expertise, and to land roles where you get to make a bigger difference (i.e. leadership) here are three big things to avoid.

1. Imagining that people will actually read your CV

I have it on good authority that if your CV actually gets read, you get about a 4 second scan. If the reader is interested then that extends by another 10 seconds approximately. If the reader is then interested you are sorted into the pile for a more thorough read. So you definitely need to make sure that you have the important things up front in an easy to read and interpret format, on the first page. Yes, you could list your education and experience upfront, but you might be better off demonstrating and providing evidence of how you apply both your education and experience in solving real world complex problems, and what results you deliver as a result.

My suggestion? BLUF it up. Get your Bottom Line Up Front (BLUF) on the front page including real world, tangible practical applications, achievements and results of your expertise on the front page. Make it easy to help you and hard to ignore.

2. Including everything but the kitchen sink

Does this come from a fear that if you don't write it on your CV then people might imagine you haven't actually done it?  Once again, if you focus on your results, highlights and achievements then it will be assumed that you have the higher level expertise required to deliver big picture results, and that you can either do or delegate those lower level tasks that were part and parcel of delivering the bigger overall project. Old/early roles are the worst.  It's as though we have a blind spot on old roles. - meaning we don't even see those lower level early career type responsibilities still listed.

My suggestion? Roll it up.  Make it easy for people to help this newer more leaderly version of yourself. And do a substantive audit of old roles that still list lower level responsibilities. Roll them up into a couple of achievements with a focus on the big picture and your future instead.

3. Using hard working, loyal and conscientious as descriptors

I work with some seriously smart and talented women (and even a few men) who all have bright futures in front of them.  In some of the CVs of women in particular there are some troubling choices of language that we use to describe ourselves.  Words like efficient, hardworking, conscientious and loyal to name a few.

Harding working = a workhorse
Loyal = a Labrador
Conscientious = always colours inside the lines
Efficient = a piece of software
— Avril Henry (paraphrased)

Many of you will know Avril Henry. She is a pretty inspirational speaker who has been focused on, and speaking about, gender equity for many years.  One of the most confronting talks she gives is her language talk. She invites members of the audience (men and women) to describe themselves or their brand in four or five words.

While the men tend to use language like results oriented, driven, strong, dynamic or authoritative, the women more likely use words such as efficient, hard working, loyal and conscientious.

Why is this a problem? If businesses need leaders who can solve complex problems, are critical thinkers, adaptive, consultative, creative and able to make sound judgments in the face of ambiguity or adversity then why are we still describing ourselves as workers from the 80's? We are seriously underselling ourselves and the advantages that our leadership style brings, in a big way.

My advice?  Big it up! Audit your CV immediately and remove references to hard work, loyalty, conscientiousness and efficiency and instead focus on real life examples of the work you did and the results of said work. Efficient is one thing, but effective is far better! Borrow from some of those masculine qualitative labels such as strong, driven, results oriented and remember also to include qualities from the 2020 Future of Work report. Be bold.

Who are you to play small?

When you downplay it's not just you who misses out. It's the others in your remit and beyond as well. We need to be prepared to step up and play our big (sometimes tough) game despite old notions and old ways. Because when we play small, change is really slow. When we play big we are far more likely to make a far bigger difference. 

We've been working hard on gender equality for years. it's time we worked far smarter!  Let's be bold together.

#BeBoldForChange #IWD2017

Your thoughts? Would love to hear from you. Get in touch and let me know how you might embrace bold this year.


Feel like your leadership journey has stalled? Email ablesing@amandablesing.com to set up a 30 min one on one to learn more. Helping clients shift from feeling invisible to becoming invincible in just 12 months

The Cost of Perfectionism

To be clear, this is not an article about having it all. Instead this is an article about the cost of perfectionism - and having it all and perfectionism are two very different realities - and in fact perfectionism is one of the biggest hurdles in your journey to having it all! Instead, this is an article about how perfectionism can be detrimental to your organisation and your role. But perhaps more relevant to you, perfectionism is damaging your career and your relationships.

The cost of perfectionism is far too great for women - we need to learn another strategy

Some of you know that I also have a passion for yoga and teaching yoga. In yoga philosophy perfectionism is seen as a form of violence (ahimsa) - both towards yourself and others, and we need to work on letting it go and "getting messy on the mat".  But unless you carry that awareness with you off the yoga mat and into your daily life, its very hard to keep a lid on it. 

We're constantly bombarded with messages on striving to be better, look better and have more.  In fact, I've got a line I like to use - you might have heard me say it before:

We strive for a perfect house, perfect kids, perfect career PLUS we wear ourselves out in the gym because we want to look good naked ......... No wonder we’re all exhausted!

So what does the cost of perfectionism mean? Well I tend to lump perfectionism right up there with procrastination and working too hard.  While most people know that procrastination is not a good thing, most of us assume that hard work and perfectionism are great tactics.  I tend to put them in the same bucket especially as they frequently go hand in hand.

A couple of years ago Dr Jason Fox mused hilariously about "procrastifectionism" and oh, how it resonated.  The state of inertia caused by procrastinating AND being a perfectionist can bring you to your knees and is not limited to women.

And if you read my article of two weeks ago you'll see why I don't consider working hard to be something to be admired. In fact, in my opinion hard work is one of the greatest myths perpetuated on women at work. It not only wears us out and keeps us busy playing small, but it's flawed and side tracks us from innovating, tackling BHAGs or taking up opportunities that might be presented to us in addition to our regular schedule - to name just a few.

In fact, I’m tired of being told we need to continue to work hard at gender equity. I say we need to work smarter - because working hard hasn’t got us very far to date!
— Amanda Blesing

Check out the model below to see how these three behaviours of perfectionism, procrastination and hard work intersect and interact .

The downside of relying on perfectionism as a strategy to get ahead

  • Inertia and time wasted are byproducts of perfectionism and procrastination,
  • Resources blowouts of time, money and energy are byproducts of hard work and perfectionism,
  • A sense of deep unworthiness or not feeling good enough (shame, guilt and fear) are the outcomes of working hard and procrastination. 

You can read more about the costs of perfectionism by psychologist and author, Pavel Somov, Ph.D. on Huffington Post.

Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.

So what might it look like? Four examples to name a few

  • When you have a project deadlines that you miss, because you are still polishing up the details,
  • You have a critical deadline that you actually make but it nearly kills you to meet it, because your perfectionist tendencies got in the way of finding a short cut or a more efficient solution,
  • Your first ever published article takes more than one month to refine - thereby delaying the launch of your business (oh right, that was me!), or
  • When you don't apply for a role that looks great because you only meet 3 of the 5 criteria.

The value of delivering average

Years ago I was challenged by a really smart manager to try and "deliver average" every now and then because it was not just better for my own stress levels but also better for the business unit. It was probably the best advice I've ever received.  It was such a release to finally realise that I wasn't being paid to deliver perfect. I was being paid to deliver a result.

Why deliver a Rolls Royce product when the client has only paid for a Toyota?

In fact I remember being fascinated by a team who loved to deliver excellence in educational design - and yet their clients had only paid for a cheaper solution. In this instance:

  • Perfectionism and striving for excellence were getting in the way of profitability,
  • Not only was this drive for "excellence" costing the organisation to service the client, but it meant there was no room to move when and if a higher quality product was required,
  • Additionally, there was an opportunity cost - because everyone was so busy delivering the "excellence" there was no-one out scouting about for new opportunities, or new development techniques, and staff were worn out all the time because they were on this continual never ending roller coaster ride of over delivering.

Rules of thumb

  • Perfectionism and having it all are two different realities,
  • Perfectionism and results oriented aren't the same either,
  • People promote those who deliver results and get things done, not simply for doing things perfectly,
  • Organisations of the future will require agile problem solvers, rather than those who can execute a procedure perfectly,
  • Perfectionism is exhausting, unproductive, expensive, undermining and causes inertia - where effortless ease, confidence and a bias towards forward momentum, might be far more helpful!
  • The perfectionist runs the risk of finding themselves redundant as new innovative software solutions emerge that can deliver perfect with more precision, far faster and with less cost to the business,
  • Delivering "average", failure practice and the rejection game are some of the tactics I use to get over my perfectionist tendencies - along with meditation, journalling and reframing to keep me flourishing.

Your thoughts?

So where do you see perfectionism getting in the way?  And more importantly, what strategies do you deliver to help you let go of perfectionist tendencies? Comments in the box below. Thanks for sharing.

Vive la révolution! #ambitionrevolution

 

  •  I am the creator of The Ambition Revolution – the science andart of amping smart and savvy.
  • I mentor busy professionals to ensure they remain strategic, agile and focused on the bigger game.
  • I also work with organisations who are trying to increase the profile of women in leadership, but struggling to do so

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Feel like your leadership journey has stalled? Email ablesing@amandablesing.com to set up a 30 min one on one to learn more. Helping clients shift from feeling invisible to becoming invincible in just 12 months