Turn Your Career Challenges Into Resume Achievements

    Accomplishments are an important part of your resume. They set you apart from your competition and give potential employers a reason to consider you above others with similar qualifications. Most people, however, find it difficult to write resume achievements. What exactly constitutes an accomplishment? Simply put, an accomplishment is an example of how you solved a workplace challenge and what it meant to your employer. Everyone faces problems on the job, especially now given our difficult economic times. You can make those challenges work for you with this three-step method for turning challenges into achievements.

    1. Identify significant challenges.

    Think back through your career to the times when your company, team or division faced difficult situations that had a potential negative effect on bottom-line corporate issues. Start back through your earlier years of employment. Write a list and be specific about why the issue was a problem. What was at stake? Who were the stake holders? Why was the issue critical? How much of the organization was effected by the challenge? If you take a systematic approach you should be able to identify a challenge for every few years of employment.

    2. What was your part in solving the problem?

    Now that you have your list of workplace challenges, think back to how you helped solve them. You may have worked alone or as part of a group. Perhaps you coordinated between diverse functional groups to facilitate the solution. Be specific about the technology you used, skills involved and steps you took toward fixing the problem. Did you introduce a new procedure or create a better way of processing information? Did you use technology to streamline routine tasks? Did you train your team on a new process? Did you take on added responsibilities to insure the task was completed?

    3. What was the result of your effort?

    Once the challenge was met, the solution found and the issue resolved, what did it mean to your employer? What did your company get out of it? Did you save your department time? Did your solution lead to cutting costs? Were you able to identify new revenue opportunities? Did you free up time for your boss? Did you help others to work more efficiently? How many persons within the organization were effected by your work? It's nice if you can quantify your results, but don't be discouraged if you can't quantify every result in dollars.

    Once you have all your information at hand it's time to put it together in concise statements that sell your skills.

    A few guidelines to keep in mind are:

    Try to keep your accomplishment statements to two lines each.

    Begin your statement with the result.

    Don't dilute the result by providing more information than necessary.

    Accomplishments should be included with every employment entry of your resume. For added punch, write a highlight of accomplishments section toward the top of your resume. Remember, at the time perhaps you received little thanks for your effort in solving challenges, but now is the time to get credit for your hard work. Let your resume include your achievements on the job and potential employers will be eager to learn how you can help solve their problems as well.


    Deborah Walker, Certified Career Management Coach

    Read more career tips and see sample resumes at:




    Behavioral Interviews: Three Steps to Great Answers

    Some of the most challenging interview questions are found in behavioral interviews which are designed to test your abilities in three ways:

    1. Determine how well you work under pressure
    2. Find out how well you work with others
    3. Establish whether you can resolve conflicts

    Sample Interview Questions

    To test your stress-coping skills you may get a question like:
    “Tell me about the most stressful situation you’ve encountered in your current position.”

    To find out how well you work with others you might be asked:
    “Tell me about a time when you strongly disagreed with your team?”
    “Tell me about a time when you thought your boss was wrong? How did you handle it?”

    Finally, employers want staff members who can resolve conflicts to gain win-win results for all parties. To discover your conflict-resolution skills you might be asked:
    “Tell me about a time when you had difficulty resolving a customer conflict?”

    There are three steps to preparing for a behavioral interview.

    1. Behavioral questions ask you about specific events. Take inventory of the stressful or difficult situations you've encountered at work. Think back to times when you didn't agree with your boss, or when your peers drove you crazy, or when customers made unrealistic demands.

    2. If the workplace doesn't provide much to choose from, expand your thought process to include other circumstances where you work or must cooperate with others, like community activities, neighborhood associations, or church functions. For instance, planning a school fundraiser, participating on a neighborhood committee or participating on a professional association board. Any of these situations are ripe with opportunities for conflict and cooperation, where something must be accomplished for the betterment of the group.

    3. Once you've thought of several situations, plan how you will present them in a positive light. For situations you didn't handle well (like your boss yelled at you and you ran off crying) present them in terms of what you learned, like this:

    “Yes, I learned an important lesson about following directions and asking questions for clarification when. . . "

    For situations that did turn out well, present them based on what was accomplished, like this:

    "Yes, I had to deal with a really angry customer just last week. But when I calmly asked a few questions I was able to get to the heart of her issue. I was able to fix the problem, and she was happy with us again."

    With the right interview preparation, you can turn nightmare behavioral questions into opportunities to sell yourself. You’ll be seen as an employee who is able to stay calm under pressure, work well with others to promote corporate goals, and retain key customers, contributing to revenue growth. In other words, the type of person all employers would want to hire. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Deborah Walker, Certified Career Management Coach

    Read more career tips and see sample resumes at:




    CLARB Welfare Study Presented at Ohio Chapter ASLA Annual Meeting

    CLARB Welfare Study Presented at Ohio Chapter ASLA Annual Meeting - Thursday, May 17, 2012

    Ohio Board of Landscape Architect Examiners member, Tim Schmalenberger, and Executive Director Amy Kobe made a presentation to the Ohio Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects 2012 Annual Meeting in Columbus. The presentation discussed the groundbreaking study commissioned by the Council of Landscape Architectural Registration Boards (CLARB), which sought to define public welfare as it relates to the profession of landscape architecture, and, using Central Ohio projects as examples, illustrates the impacts and benefits of landscape architecture has on the public welfare. A copy of the presentation is available here and a copy of the study is available here.

    For more information please visit:

    How To Write the Perfect Cover Letter

    Your cover letter has only one job. It is meant to entice the reader to open and read your resume. Sounds simple, but job seekers often stress as much over their cover letter as they do the resume. If this sounds like you, relax, there is a simple approach to cover letters that will streamline your application process and give you confidence every time you send out your resume. Just keep these three cover letter tips in mind and you'll never stress over writing them again.

    1. Keep it short.

    More often than not you'll send your cover letter via email or some other electronic system. Your reader won't be looking at a piece of paper, but at their computer screen. Ever notice how short your reading attention span is when you're reading text on your computer? That's why online articles are typically shorter than print articles. The same holds true for email messages. If you've got 60 messages in your inbox you don't have the patience for lengthy text. Now imagine you're a recruiter or resume screener and you must get through a couple hundred resumes in a day. If you want your cover letter read keep it short, concise and to the point.

    2. Focus on qualifications.

    Most job seekers freeze up when writing cover letter because they don't know what information recruiters want to see. The first person in an organization to read your resume is a recruiter or HR professional who acts as a screener. They are interested only in identifying candidates who match match their set of qualifications. The better the match the higher the interest. Don't worry about explaining why you are interested in the position, the screener probably doesn't care. He/she only want to know if you qualify as a viable candidate. Use the job posting as a guide to know exactly what qualifications to mention in your cover letter.

    3. Don't try to get fancy.

    Job seekers get frustrated writing cover letters because they try to make it into a creative writing exercise. That's not necessary. It's much more important that you keep your ideas clear and easily understood. When writing about your qualifications do use the same verbiage to describe your skills as the job posting. You'll make the resume screener's work much easier and they will recognize you as a perfect candidate match much quicker.

    Using this simple approach will allow you to take a customized approach with each cover letter you send. Generic cover letters usually sound canned no matter how much time was spent writing them. Worse, a one-size-fits all cover letter looks like it was borrowed off the page of a sample cover letter book. Would you take the time to read a mass-produced letter?

    I'm often asked if cover letters are still relevant in today's fast-paced job market. While the form has changed from paper to electronic they are still a vital part of your job-search marketing materials. Cover letters provide your first opportunity to make a good impression on your potential new employer. It pays to write them with clarity and simplicity.


    Deborah Walker, Certified Career Management Coach

    Read more career tips and see sample resumes at:





    Ten Signs of Job Dissatisfaction: Don’t Ignore Them!

    Are you completely happy with your current job? If not, now is a great time to analyze your job satisfaction. There are ten sure signs that you are experiencing job dissatisfaction. If you:

    • Dread Mondays or coming to work
    • Can’t wait for Friday
    • Are often bored at work
    • Feel tired or chronically fatigued
    • Avoid your boss and dread meetings
    • Have no enthusiasm or sense of self-worth
    • Feel like you are getting nowhere in your job
    • Take work stress home
    • Question your choice of industry or occupation
    • Can’t think of a way out

    Any of the above signs indicate a need for change. The biggest career mistake is to ignore those indicators. A head-in-the-sand mentality can lead to a downward career spiral that ends with disappointment and “what if” regrets.

    Here are three great ways to facilitate positive change:

    Analyze your career choice.

    Is the problem your boss or employer—or is it that you have chosen the wrong occupation? Before you take any action, make sure you know what needs to change.

    Don’t make the mistake of throwing away a good career (ex. accounting, sales, finance) when the problem is really the person you work for. On the flip side, if you’re not cut out for sales, then changing employers isn’t going to help the problem.

    A career coach can guide you to determine which of these problems is causing your unhappiness and give you ideas for your next career move.

    Update your resume.

    Updating your resume can give you a great confidence boost. You’ll feel better immediately if you know you are ready whenever opportunity knocks.

    Be careful, however, that your resume doesn’t resemble a house with too many additions, each resembling a different style. If you have simply added to the same old resume job after job, it’s time to “tear down that old shack” and rebuild your resume from the ground up.

    If your old resume format doesn’t live up to your professional image, you may want to consult a resume coach. You’d never wrap a ruby ring in old newspaper, and you should never present your career with anything less than professional polish.

    Brush up your interview skills.

    If you have been on the job for a couple of years, your interview skills are probably rusty. Don’t make the mistake of blowing off the first few interviews as practice. They might be the perfect jobs for you!

    You’ll feel much more confident and comfortable if your interview skills are honed before you step into the first interview. To determine your current level of interview expertise, answer the following questions:

    • Do you know the toughest interview questions—and how to answer them?
    • Can you answer the salary question without compromising the level of starting salary at offer time?
    • Can you recognize the most common interview styles—and respond without showing stress?

    If you aren’t sure, then it may be time to visit with a career coach who can help you prepare to WOW them in every interview.

    Job dissatisfaction is an indication of needed change. Take the steps of change by investing in the appropriate job-search skills and tools, and you will be in a position to change your job—and your life—for the better.


    Deborah Walker, Certified Career Management Coach

    Read more career tips and see sample resumes at:




    How To Avoid Job Interview Brain Freeze

    Have you ever experienced brain freeze during a job interview? You are asked a question and your mind goes blank—it's horrifying. You lose composure as well as confidence. Your interview goes down hill from there. Brain freeze most often happens as a result of behavioral or situational interview questions that are not anticipated before hand. As a career coach, this is the most common interview problem I hear about from my clients. With the right preparation you can avoid the nightmare of brain freeze and improve your interview performance greatly.

    First of all, it's important to understand what a behavioral or situational interview question is. It is any question that start with:

    Tell me a time when …

    Give an example of …

    Describe a situation when …

    Employers ask these types of questions with the assumption that past behavior indicates future performance. These questions reveal a lot about a candidate, including a candidates ability to think fast on their feet. Given that interviews are inherently stressful, many job seekers find it extremely difficult to think fast during interviews. Here are four steps that will help you prepare for any interview question.

    Take inventory of your accomplishments.

    This requires more than a cursory mental note of the good stuff you've done in the past year. Take a systematic approach by asking yourself what challenges you've faced in each of your positions over the past five or more years. Try asking yourself

    What processes have I improved?

    How have I made work easier for others?

    What did I do to save my company money?

    When did I find a solution to a departmental problem.

    How did I save time?

    When did I go beyond the call of duty to solve a customer problem?

    Write out your answers to these questions. Remember to include the quantitative details when appropriate. Include dollars saved, hours cut, percentage increased etc.

    Study the job description.

    With your list of accomplishments in hand you are ready to turn your attention to the job description. Study the requirements to determine the all possible challenges involved with the job. If the actual job description is skimpy in details, look to other similar positions listed to help fill in the blanks. Additionally, ask others who hold similar positions what their greatest challenges of the job are. Write out your list of anticipated challenges.

    Create a list behavioral questions.

    Turn your list of challenges of the position into a list of questions that start with:

    Tell me a time when you …

    Describe a situation when …

    Have you ever had to …

    Your list will look something like:

    Tell me a time when you had to cut costs out of your annual budget.

    Describe a situation when you had to fire a friend.

    How would you go about repairing a relationship with a disgruntled client?

    Use your list of accomplishments to answer your behavioral questions.

    Ask a friend to help you role play your interview answers. You should feel very comfortable communicating your success stories. The more time you practice actually talking about your accomplishments the faster you'll be able to recall your stories in your next interview.

    With interview performance more important than ever before it pays to prepare, prepare, prepare. There is no such thing as over preparation when it comes to interviews. Use this 1,2,3,4 approach to interview prep and you'll be surprised at how much more confident you'll feel in your next interview. The better you interview the faster you'll be at your new job.


    Deborah Walker, Certified Career Management Coach

    Read more career tips and see sample resumes at:




    2013 Annual Meeting: Millennium Park Quadruaple Net Value Report

    Attendees of the 2013 OCASLA Annual Meeting:

    Edward K. Uhlir, FAIA, Executive Director of Millennium Park, Inc. has been kind enough to share with us the Millennium Park Quadruaple Net Value Report released by Texas A&M University and DePaul University in the summer of 2011. Statistics outlined in this report were cited in the presenation given by Ed at the 2013 OCASLA Annual Meeting in Columbus.