The Untold Resume Story


Last week, I attended a client meeting discussing the merits of candidates for a key position. At one point, the conversation turned to a current freelance contributor with whom they had developed a long relationship . The conversation went something like this:

Company Executive A: “What about bringing in Erin on this one? Her work is beautiful.”

Company Executive B: “We should think about the required progress on this project — we need to keep things moving along quickly.”

Company Executive C: “I really would like to see Erin here, but I worry about her ability to handle the schedule when the pressure heats up.”

Hmmmm. The information shared by Company Executive C was certainly never mentioned previously. This candidate had completed multiple projects with the company quite successfully. Her work was described as “inspired” — and she usually hit budget targets. However, it appeared that a portion of her “invisible” or “unwritten” resume was affecting her chances with the current opportunity.

This poses an interesting aspect of resumes.

It is likely that we all have an alternative or unwritten resume —  which effectively captures what is not included in the more formal version. (See a great discussion of the topic in this classic HBR post.) This unwritten version, might include aspects of our work life including attitude, performance under pressure and our overall ability to collaborate.

We all have a side to our broader career story that we may be overlooking — and its elements may have a significant impact on our future. We need to ascertain the complete story and address it. The sooner the better.

So what do you think might be included in your “invisible resume”?

Time to think on that.

Dr. Marla Gottschalk is a Workplace Psychologist. She also writes for Linkedin and US News & World Report.

Are You Listening?

Photo by kyle smith on Unsplash

Have you ever heard someone described as a really great listener? Being defined in this manner implies all sorts of positive attributes; Fairness. Maturity. Open to opinion.

There are so many reasons to emphasize the power of listening in the workplace. From developing future leaders to teaming skills – the art of listening is a much needed skill set. Many leadership experts feel you simply cannot excel in business today without this skill, and I agree fully. Listening can not only make you more likeable  — listining can change the face of your career.

Tom Peters, author of In Search of Excellence, aptly calls this skill set “strategic listening”. No matter what your role or organizational purpose he is adamant that listening is critical. Listening is about respect. It is about making a commitment to others. It is about commitment to progress and change.

What you might gain from tweaking your listening skills:

  • You’ll grow as a contributor. Learning to put your own thoughts aside for just a moment, will help you process new ideas. Overall, you’ll be in a better position to absorb more of the knowledge that is around you.
  • You’ll be better positioned to handle problems. When challenge occurs – effective listening skills can help you to understand dissenting opinions and varying points of view. As a result, you’ll have a far greater chance of finding needed solutions.
  • You’ll discover hidden potential. In many situations, your most effective team members may not be the most highly vocal. Hang back and let them know you value their opinions – they’ll be more likely to come forward and contribute.

We can all improve our listening skills. For now, hold back and let others complete their thought. Then reflect on what you have learned. It’s a great place to start.

Dr. Marla Gottschalk is an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist. She also writes for Talent Zoo and Linkedin.

Strategy Break: Time, time, time.

Time1On certain days, 5:00 PM rolls around and I haven’t accomplished a single task on my “to do” list. I’m doing things – but arguably not the “right” things. Days such as this make me fully aware that it is advisable to take a quick look, every so often, at how we are utilizing our time.

The level of distraction in our work lives has never been greater – on-line, off-line, mobile. Meetings, e-mails, travel. With all of the elements competing for our attention – it’s hard to know if we are making wise “time” choices. A few signs to be aware of:

  • You don’t seem to have the time to complete your “best” work.
  • You don’t have time to recharge or re-energize.
  • You have little time to explore new contacts or projects.

So, I pose this question: Are you an effective time-user? That’s a difficult question to answer. However, I am sure we can all agree that time is a valuable commodity, that commands respect.

Here are a few posts that can help you get on the right path:

What are your time “challenges”? Fill us in.

Dr. Marla Gottschalk is a Workplace Psychologist and coach. She also writes for Talent Zoo and Linkedin.

10 Career Questions I’d Like to Ask Just About Everyone

It’s an occupational hazard — I love to hear details about people and their work. When meeting someone at a conference or gathering, career related topics always flood my mind. Most questions on this topic consist of the garden variety; Who do you work for? How long have you been with your organization? Do you travel much? But, these aren’t the questions I’d like to pose. I’d like to know much, much more and hear the “unabridged” story. The successes, the failures, the wrong turns, the U-turns  — all of the highs and lows.

They all meet and mingle to tell a real-life career story.

Most of us become so busy with our everyday work lives that we fail to carve out a moment to reflect on our own paths. That process would take time and the right frame of mind. However, I encourage you to do so.

So — here are the questions that I would really like to ask you. You can consider them when you have a moment:

  • How did you choose your line of work (be completely honest)?
  • Would you make that same choice today?
  • When you think about work, do you feel energized?
  • If you could create your dream role, what would that be?
  • Who was your most challenging boss and why?
  • Who was your most aggravating co-worker and why?
  • Are you most creative alone or on a team?
  • What kind of work spaces motivate you?
  • What is your most memorable failure?
  • What single thing would you change (if you could) to improve your work life?

I’d love to hear some of your answers and what you might do with the information. Feel free to share that here.

Dr. Marla Gottschalk is a Workplace Psychologist. She also writes for Talent Zoo and  Linkedin.

Trusting Your Inner Career Voice

Trust yourself.  Then you will know how to live. –
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Do you trust your inner voice? Have you ever faced a career-related problem and been bombarded with advice – only to feel lost and confused? Did you have difficulty sorting through all of the sources – hoping to find a reasonable path that you felt comfortable with?

We often hold the key to our own career progress – but we are simply not listening. This week on LinkedIn, I examine the hesitancy we all have to trust that important inner voice. In the post “The Most neglected Brand of Trust”,  we consider the reasons behind our failure to listen – and some of the reasons why.

Dr. Marla Gottschalk is a Workplace Psychologist. You can also find her on Twitter and Linkedin.

A Little About Introverts (and the Workplace)

Photo by Jessica F on Unsplash

I am a “card-carrying” introvert — leaning toward the introverted end of the introvert/extrovert continuum.

As expressed by Susan Cain – I am also proud of it (I too, thought of summer camp as a confusing form of torture). I’m one of those individuals who gathers strength from focusing “inward” and would rather brainstorm on my own than among a group of people. Like other introverts, I rehearse what I am going to say in a team environment — and feel more than a little drained after attending a party. I tend to “choke” if things go wrong, and I’m put on the spot. Meetings without defined agendas are problematic, as gathering my opinions before weighing in on a topic is important. Speaking in front of others can be challenging — however, the conversations that emerge are wonderful.

Like many introverts, I am also a bit misunderstood. As a youngster, I was continually asked why I wasn’t “smiling” at social gatherings, when in actuality I was having a perfectly good time observing the scene and watching others. (Just not waving my arms and jumping up and down with glee.) In college some of the other students in my dormitory let me know that at first meeting they found me  “stuck up” or “shy”. But, that just wasn’t the case. I thoroughly enjoyed social gathering with friends and love to laugh.

At LinkedIn, I’ve written about a challenging task for introverts — working on a team. (You can read “A Note About Introverts and Teams” here.) I spent the better part of a month reading about introversion and how this might impact workplace experiences. This included how introverts process information and how they might be most effective overall. I also had the opportunity to interview businesses that have developed novel methods to ensure that all voices are heard within a group setting. (These techniques were quite amazing).

But, by far – the most interesting aspect of the post were the comments from readers. Fellow introverts, team members and managers who just want the best and most productive outcome for all of us in the workplace. These comments let me know that our differences can combine to form a stronger team environment – and that mutual understanding and respect is really where our efforts should lie.

Are you a “card-carrying” introvert? What are your workplace experiences? Tell your story.

Dr. Marla Gottschalk is a Workplace Psychologist. You can also find her on Twitter and Linkedin.

Why We Should Still Practice the “70-20-10” Rule


We all need a viable strategy to stretch ourselves and hopefully, reach our potential. However, it’s unlikely that we’ve committed to a firm strategy to do so. Implementing a guiding philosophy to remain on the “cutting edge” could help, allowing us to see the innovative paths that may exist in our own work lives.

Personally, I find it difficult to spark change (and follow through) in my work life. (Old habits die hard, don’t they?) I make promises to spend more time exploring new work life territory — but it seems that without fail, I miss that mark.

I also needed a concrete plan to sustain momentum toward that goal. I hoped that with measured practice, changing things up would become second nature.

But why reinvent the wheel?

To that end, I am all for borrowing established (and successful) strategies that can provide structure — “tried and true” methods that can be adapted to our own careers. That’s exactly why I chose the 70-20-10 rule, made popular by Google.  The 70-20-10 rule is simple, yet remarkably powerful. It prescribes that you spend 70% of your time in the core areas of your work, 20% of your time on tasks related to your core and 10% devoted to tasks that are completely “off-road”. (The “secret sauce”.)

The rule can be readily applied to many, many types of roles and functions, including those that focus on sales and process improvement. Try it on for size and see what it does for your work.

A couple of ways to apply it:

  • Staffing a team. The larger part of the team (70%) should include those directly related to the work at hand at hand. However, 20% could be in areas or functions related to the issue or project at hand, and 10% of team members could be composed of those in unrelated functions — those that could offer an entirely fresh perspective.
  • Sales efforts. If you sell for a living, take another look at your potential customers. Of course, your core target group would include potential clients with a profile very similar to your current clients. However, go the extra mile and identify 20% that are somewhat different, but still may find a fit or use for your products. The other 10%? These are customers that may require you to develop an innovative product application or service packages to win their business. Explore this path, as there is no telling what will be discovered.
  • Networking. We all have a tendency to gravitate towards the familiar — however this can limit us. Make a concerted effort to build relationships with people in new functional areas, that are still tangentially related to your core. (For example, if I exclusively networked with other psychologists, I wouldn’t learn nearly as much about HR tech.) You may not have the language mastered in these “off-road” functions, but you can certainly develop a working vocabulary. You may also happen upon a very worthwhile collaboration.

Here are a just a few reasons to try the method:

  • Ideas don’t develop themselves. If we don’t designate time to explore new paths, our thoughts cannot “cross-pollinate” — an innovation basic. Many interesting developments seem to develop through “serendipity”. Serendipity doesn’t occur in a vacuum.
  • Our brains need a change of pace. Have you read The Eureka Phenomena? Asimov’s classic article, helps us understand that the brain works on more than one level. Changing gears for a period of time, can actually help your mind “settle” and solve problems.
  • We all need real challenge. The 70-20-10 can help “gamify” work, and make it novel.  I place the “off road” 10% in that category. That somehow works for me.

Have you applied the 70-20-10 in your line of work? Tell us how.

Dr. Marla Gottschalk is a Workplace Psychologist. You can also find her on Twitter and Linkedin.

Brand Yourself as a High Potential


You might argue — but it is my opinion that you cannot expect to walk through the office door a virtuoso.

Whether you are new to the workplace or simply changing direction, it takes a bit of time to establish your reputation and set yourself apart from the crowd. This is perfectly fine — as good things can come with patience. It’s not a sprint to climb the staircase of success, it is definitely a “steady and paced” endeavor.

Tom Peter’s classic article, The Brand Called You, emphasized the importance of developing your own career brand in our fast-paced world of work — and I fully agree with his premise. Standing out in a sea of competition can be daunting, and branding is a savvy option to consider. You are your own brand — and you alone have the control to develop that brand wisely.

Keeping your nose to the grindstone is a great place to start. However, a solid “brand” strategy is even better. You need to set a projected path and make the most of every interaction. Whatever you are doing, make a commitment to do it well — no matter what the task. Ultimately, it is your behavior that will identify you as something extraordinary.

What will you be adding to the workplace equation? Strive to be unique. Be remarkable. Be courageous. Make a solid commitment that your actions (and your attitude) mesh with the brand of a “high potential” contributor.

A few ideas. Try a couple of them to start:

  • Start listening and talk less. Brand yourself as a strategic listener  — a critical workplace skill. Key here, is having the smarts to stay quiet and absorb the knowledge that is around you. Grow this way, as this can serve you well.
  • Underscore you strengths. Brand your strengths. What are the 2 or 3 areas of expertise that comprise your core value to an organization? Be sure you can speak to these. In fact, develop an elevator pitch explaining your brand — just in case someone directly poses this question. Always be ready to tell your strategic story.
  • Be mindful of an “Achilles heel.” Your weaknesses can hold you back, so be sure to identify these early on — and brand yourself as someone who is self-aware. It may not be the most pleasant of tasks to consider, but tackling impediments head on, can help catapult your career forward.
  • Be the link. Moving forward in an organization requires a broader focus today, so brand yourself as the “link”. How does your function (and your specific role) contribute to the success of your organization? Be sure you understand these connections and educate others about them.
  • Read more. Brand yourself as an expert. There are great sites, blogs and book titles to help you get a strong grip on your specific industry. For starters — find out what your boss is reading. Develop talking points that engage others and encourage progress.
  • Find mentors and a sponsor. Navigating the world of work can be a challenge — and seeking different perspectives can be a huge advantage. Don’t limit yourself to one mentor, build a set of them and brand yourself as a life-long learner. Don’t overlook the need for an internal sponsor, someone to help you gain exposure and key “stretch assignments”.
  • Raise your hand for projects that everyone is avoiding. Brand yourself as a team player. Remember that the tougher the assignment, the more you’ll stand to learn.
  • Learn to collaborate. Brand yourself as someone who gets things done. Gather information about how decisions are made. Be aware of the respective contributions of other teams in varying functions. Help to create an atmosphere of creativity and innovation.
  • Chart a self-improvement course. Brand yourself as a “self-starter”. Don’t wait for others to suggest training and development opportunities — always have a list on your radar. Stay alert for development opportunities that will make an impact on your career path and prepare you for the next steps. Don’t ignore the basics (presentation skills, for example), as they are career building blocks.

Do you have a strategy to build your own brand? Share your ideas here.

A version of this post previously appeared at Talent Zoo

Dr. Marla Gottschalk is a Workplace Psychologist located in East Lansing, Michigan. You can also find her on Twitter and Linkedin.