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Job Search Articles

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  • 10 Sep 2020 5:30 PM | Marie Zimenoff (Administrator)

    By Marie Zimenoff 
    Career Thought Leaders & Resume Writing Academy

    Co-Authored By Tanya Mykhaylychenko
     TM Writing & Editing

    Before you start your job search, ask yourself some questions to hone your focus and clarify your strategy. You may already have these questions in mind, and they sound simple. Let us review your approach again. It may not be as simple as it seems initially.

    -         Who is the audience for your resume?

    -         What types of jobs will you be applying to?

    -         Who is going to be on the receiving end of your application?

    Instead of keeping all these ideas in your mind while juggling various job search tasks (company research, job description analysis, networking, and resume updates), write down some of your processes notes. You may be able to see a pattern and organize your efforts more effectively.

    Create a list of the job titles that have been the most interesting to you.

    This is one of the most challenging steps for some people because we want to keep our options open. The more focused you are, the easier it will be to put together your resume. If you are too broad in your focus, you may not connect with as many opportunities as you could because you are at the whim of whatever is posted. What types of positions are most interesting to you? What are the elements that make a job really attractive to you?

    This list will help you come up with 2-3 slightly different resume versions; for instance, an account manager focused nurturing existing relationships while a business development professional is finding business, creating accounts, influencing, persuading, and selling.

    Identify common threads across all of the types of target positions that you will use in your social media.

    Your professional brand has to be consistent across your LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter channels.  What it is that you do? Knowing the types of target roles helps you articulate your professional value with clarity across all channels, providing that 30,000-foot view of the important skills. In this step, prioritize 2-3 different types of positions at the most. Identify key areas of expertise and your skills in each area.

    Identify your desired geography.

    Your search can be local or national. Depending on your choice, think again about the target audience. What should you know about the company’s requirements, target markets, recent performance, and expectations based on their location or geographical scope of operations? Identify the companies where you would like to work and research them proactively.

    Identify your top 3 target industries.

    What types of companies have you worked in (healthcare, high tech, biomedical, financial industry)?  What types of people do you want to be around? For instance, if you are an accountant, you could be an account in any kind of industry, in any kind of company. Yet you'll have certain types of experience that will make you more desirable in certain industries. Identify the specific skills you have based on your past industry.

    If you worked in manufacturing and want to transition to healthcare, consider approaching your resume in a different way, highlighting transferrable skills instead of industry-specific skills. If, on the other hand, you’d like to stay in manufacturing, emphasize skills specific to manufacturing. Consider the requirements and the language of each industry when updating your resume. You may come up with a different resume for each industry.

    Identify the needs of your target company.

    Company cultures differ, so you want to reflect on your desired company profile and size. Once you narrow down those criteria, pay attention to the company’s needs as described in the job announcement. Research the company online (Glassdoor, social media) to learn more about their culture. Create a list of 10-50 companies and return to this list on a regular basis. Write down what makes each company desirable for you and what makes you a great fit for them. This is going to be the foundation of your communications plan, your career documents, and your social media efforts.

    Once you have mapped out these core elements of your search, start reaching out and applying proactively.

    Use networking and social media

    Have a strong LinkedIn profile focused on your goals. Use the keywords that are specific to the type of work you want to do to get traction from recruiters. Networking is used widely across various industries and company sizes. If a smaller company has an open position, it may prefer to identify candidates through networking, while a large company (100+ employees) may make a posting. Think about how hiring happens in your target companies. Ask people if you know anyone who hires within your industry (“Can you tell me a little bit how the hiring process works or if you have been a manager or helped hire?”)

    The idea of networking is that you are trying to build warm leads into your target companies. The best place to start is the people that you already know, love, and trust. They want to help you. Do not assume that your friends, family, or people from church or other organizations you attend do not know anyone in your target industry. Ask them. It is going to be the fastest and most comfortable way.

    Consider cold approaches to contacting target employers.

    If you do not have any connections in a particular industry or company, you are doing something similar to a cold call. Applying online is part of the cold approach, and your success is based on your skill level. Do you have the skill that they are looking for? Do you fit their needs? Focus on how well you can articulate your value for the reader, both electronic (Applicant Tracking System) and human. You should apply online because you do not want to miss a great fit, and you might need to apply online even if you are also networking.

    However, you want to minimize the time you spend applying online. Look at your target companies’ websites once a week or create a schedule that works for you. Check their websites for job postings and news. The more focused you are, the less time you spend adjusting your resumes. Keep your searches targeted.

    You might send direct letters to companies to learn if they may have a position on the forefront or in the near future that would be a good fit for you or if they may have some need that you can fill even though they do not have a position posted. Your goal is to understand the company’s problems and hone your sales pitch.

    Attend industry events where you can meet your target employers

    Finally, go to several events where people from your target companies might be. This is where your social media presence comes in because you can connect with people who are already working at your target companies. You can connect in groups to people who might be working at your companies and start building a network. Avoid announcing that you’re looking for a job right away. Instead, ask to learn more, share resources, and build a relationship first.

    At every stage of the process, keep reviewing your job search plan and notes, adding ideas, revising your career documents, and honing a particular message to a specific type of audience. This will raise your chances of getting a response and starting meaningful dialogue.

    Are you a coach looking to improve your job search results with clients? Check out the Certified Hidden Job Market Coach program.

    Are you a job seeker looking for help with your job search? Find a Certified Hidden Job Market Coach here.

    Listen to the Full Podcast Episode

  • 08 Sep 2020 2:53 PM | Marie Zimenoff (Administrator)

    For the best job search results – in terms of quality of job and time to land – it is best to minimize the time you spend applying to jobs online. However, you may not want to eliminate online applications from your search completely, as there are benefits to applying when you are qualified for the position.

    When you apply to a position on a company’s website, through LinkedIn, or via a trusted job board, you are showing the company you want to work there. In fact, many companies prefer "active" job seekers (those who apply to positions) ... see the bottom of the article for the link to the data!

    The tips below from our Career Thought Leader Associates can help you stand out and improve the effectiveness of your online applications.

    Be Strategic About Your Online Applications

    Do not apply for positions that you are obviously unqualified for. There is a big difference between “I’ve never done that but I’m sure I can do it” and “I have the required experience and have been successful at that."

    While you might use networking to get your foot in the door in a new role, applying online will most likely be a frustrating experience. Make sure you have 75% of the qualifications for jobs when applying online.

    Ellie Vargo, MRW, CCMC, CFRWC
    First & Only Master Resume Writer in St. Louis
    Certified Career Management Coach
    Noteworthy Resume & Career Services, LLC

    Limit Your Time Online & Maximize Each Application

    Limit the amount of time you spend looking for online postings by selecting a short list of sites to focus on, such as LinkedIn, Indeed, and specific sites for your line of work industry/professional organizations). Set up searches on sites so that you're emailed postings daily.

    When applying use a cover letter that is specifically targeted to that company. Doing your homework and crafting a well thought out letter may help to get you noticed.

    Tailor your resume to the job description. Align your resume language specifically to the job opening.

    Don't assume that applying online is enough to catch attention. Work your network to see who might know someone at that company.

    Lynda Grossman
    LG Career Coaching, LLC

    Follow the Directions & Write a Cover Letter that Connects

    Make sure you clearly address the application instructions, which means addressing any key selection criteria in full. Many candidates skip this step and diminish their application. Use a Situation, Action Outcome answer framework and highlight how your personal values, knowledge, skills and experience meet the selection criteria. Be factual and positive and add supporting data where possible.

    Include a highly customized cover letter and, for nonprofits in particular, lead with your passions and ensure they align with the nonprofit client and their mission. Research well and relate your track record, achievements, and skill set to the target client and the role you are applying to. Nonprofits place great emphasis on values and the demonstrated commitment of the candidate to their organization and mission. Highlight related key experience and skills under headings or in bullet points.

    Don't forget to make sure your resume and cover letter highlight experience the job description requires, key word optimizing it will ensure a closer perceived fit. If in doubt use a key word generator, (for example word clouds), to make sure your application is highly relevant.

    Adding related extracurricular activities and voluntary work on your LinkedIn profile will support your application and showcase your commitment to the mission and to nonprofit work in particular.

    Lois Freeke, ACRW, CPBS
    NGO Recruiter, Resume Writer, Personal Branding Strategist
    Niche Career Services

    Go Beyond Applying Online

    After you have uploaded your resume online (as the employer has asked), don’t sit back and relax. Conduct research to find the name of your potential boss/manager then send him/her a customized cover letter with your resume by regular mail.

    In the cover letter, make sure to let the person know you followed the rules by applying online, but since you both know that great candidates sometimes get lost in the ATS, you decided to send a hard copy of your application package. People like to see their names in print, so you can bet that the envelope will be opened by the person to whom it is addressed.

    This approach is one sure way to get eyeballs on your documents and get the attention of the decision maker. 

    Daisy Wright, CCDP, CCMC, CELDC, CRS
    Chief Encouragement Officer
    The Wright Career Solution

    Activate Your Referral Network

    Whenever possible (like always!) locate a referral to submit your application materials. 

    Why will refer you when they don’t know you? It could be possible they want to have great coworkers, or they may be interested in expanding their network and make connections themselves for the future. Some referrals even receive a $ bonus!

    The referral MUST submit the application materials for the applicant as their application materials go into a different part of the corporation’s applicant tracking (ATS) system. 

    If the job seeker submits their materials first, they go into the overall ATS system and the referral cannot help. The application materials once submitted cannot be changed to the referral part of the ATS system.

    You may be the only person, or among only a few other applicants, in the referral part of the (ATS) system! 

    Elizabeth Craig, MBA
    Master Career Strategist

    If you want help improving your application for online positions, contact the experts above or find an Academy Certified Resume Writer to assist you.

    Why do some companies prefer active candidates? Here's an article from Indeed that shares what they see as the benefits!

    You can find a list of resources to find open positions on our Who's Hiring During COVID resource page.

  • 08 Sep 2020 12:20 PM | Marie Zimenoff (Administrator)

    Executive Search  It's Personal!

    It is different from job search by managers and professionals because it is still personal. Executive recruiters from Associate to Partner, for example, still talk with sources, prospects and candidates. Hiring executives and Boards still meet with candidates face-to-face individually and in person or virtually by video – and eventually in person – as they fill unique, mission critical roles in the company. For those engaged in a job search, therefore, networking counts, relationships count, communication counts, and professional presentation counts. It also means that candidates must be articulate as to the value they bring and clear as to alignment with the needs of a particular company at a specific time.

    Hiring of managers and professionals is diverging dramatically from executive search. It is increasingly technology-driven and initial screening outsourced to call centers or even chat bots. Recruiters connect with talent pools through social media and engage in conversations there, often in advance of having a specific opening. Tools such as AI-based selection, self-recorded video applications, and text-driven application systems are maturing. There is also increasing emphasis on pre-interview assessment testing and later on group and panel interviews, especially for high volume recruiting and mass hiring. 

    Paula Asinof
    Wharton MBA, CCM, NLPC
    Yellow Brick Path Career Management \ 214-526-8690

    Build a Wider Network 

    Regardless of your level, more than seventy percent of new positions materialize from networking. At the executive level, networking is a must. Career and executive development professionals know that approximately eighty percent of jobs are never posted. This is the hardest point to hit home with executives—especially those that hold long tenures with one company or industry. Vast networks in your own company or industry aren’t enough. You must widen your network outside of your comfort zone.

    Although many executives are strong strategic business thinkers, that mindset tends to become dormant when it comes to marketing oneself. Naturally, we are our own worst critics, and it is difficult to know where to begin when it comes to an executive search—especially if you haven’t looked for a new position in a long time. You must build your network before you need it. Whether it is an idea, business partnership, or new role, opportunities come through people. Creating an effective, never-ending networking strategy is a critical key performance indicator.

    Susan Barens
    Career and Leadership Development Executive
    Golden Ratio Coaching, Ltd. 

    Executive Job Search in Learning & Development

    There are four components that make an executive job search stand out: 

    • First, a professional seeking an executive role in the Learning and Development field should focus on communicating their philosophical beliefs concerning learning and development in addition to sharing their knowledge, skills, and abilities.
    • Second, a traditional interview requires you to explain what your motivations are; whereas an executive interview requires you to explain how you lead and motivate others.
    • Third, a resume or curriculum vitae used for an executive job search should start with your leadership style, highlight executive functioning skills, and focus on major organizational/industry related contributions and accomplishments.
    • Fourth, an executive job search may be handled with a high level of discretion to protect both the company and the candidate.

    Lakeisha Mathews, Owner
    Certified Professional Career Coach & Resume Writer
    Right Resumes & Career Coaching

    Executive Job Search as a Business Plan

    Many executive clients have never conducted a comprehensive job search. Instead, they’ve been recruited into successive positions for ten, twenty, possibly thirty years.

    Executives are more likely to be conducting a confidential job search and therefore must be strategic in how they approach their network.

    As an executive, you understand the importance of writing a business plan to outline your objectives for the coming year. Much like a business plan, a job search plan lays the foundation for your ultimate success.

    Taking the time to map out your plan now, will save time, and frustration in the future. In preparing for your job search now, you can ensure a smooth transition when the time comes for implementation.

    You will be surprised how an effective job search strategy will shorten your time back into the market. And, as we are all aware, time is money. Save your money by reducing the time it takes you to get back to work.


    What every executive should know about how to stand out:

    Maureen McCann, BA, CCDP, MCRS, MCES, MCIS, MCCS
    Promotion Career Solutions |

    Know Your Point of View

    We all know that it is imperative that an Executive/C-Suite resume showcase specific business accomplishments, however, with the increased emphasis on employee engagement and retaining top talent, the resume must demonstrate value-driven, trusting and authentic leadership. It is the differentiator in today’s world. This makes the Executive/C-Suite resume even more challenging to write and is beyond branding. It’s assumed that the business/technical skills of executive applicants are extraordinary, however, demonstrating authenticity and trustworthiness are hard to pinpoint. The resume writer needs to know more about the executive than just business skills, they must “get under the skin” of the executive, have them think deeply about why they want to move into the position, what are their beliefs, as Ken Blanchard relates, ask them to explain what their LPOV-Leadership Point of View is.


    The Job Search Process

    Job search at the executive or C-level is not any different from other professionals. A successful job search process has the same steps involved regardless of the level of position you are seeking to land.

    First you need to identify your target organizations. You don’t even want to think about updating your resume until you know whom you’re writing it for.

    Then you need to identify your personal brand and value. It’s an essential part of selling yourself, knowing how you uniquely can solve your target company’s problems.

    Now you’re ready to update your personal marketing materials – resume, LinkedIn profile, cover letter, etc. so you can be ready for the critical step, NETWORKING.

    Networking in any job search is essential, but even more so for an executive. Executive and C-level roles are not often publicized so you need to rely on your network (and recruiters) to uncover opportunities.

    Finally all job seekers go through interviews. When you’re prepared to tell your brand story, answer the tough questions and ask the right ones you’ll surely be on your way to an offer.

    Michelle Robin, NCRW, CPRW
    Chief Career Brand Officer
    Brand Your Career

  • 15 Dec 2015 2:39 PM | Anonymous

    By Brenda Bernstein
    The Essay Expert

    Are you a talented professional with amazing accomplishments, but who is getting nowhere applying for jobs through job boards? If so, you are not alone, and you are fighting an uphill battle. The fact is, job seekers get only a 1-3% response rate from the major job boards. That means you might have to send out 100 resumes to get just one response!

    There are plenty of jobs out there that are not posted on job boards, and that even your networking contacts don’t know about. The company itself might not even know they want someone like you until you show up! Mary Elizabeth Bradford, who won a Career Innovator Award at the 2011 Career Directors International conference, has packaged a Job Search Success System that will help you present yourself powerfully to find those hidden jobs.

    The basic premise of Mary Elizabeth’s system if that you need strategies to connect directly with companies. You cut out the “middle man” (recruiters, HR, job boards, etc.).

    Most companies go through at least five steps to fill a position before they will post the position to a major job board. They get on the phone to a few trusted colleagues. They look to see if anyone internal is qualified to be promoted. They alert their staff to refer someone they might know. They launch an intimate campaign to try to fill the position waaaay before the general public is notified. And if after a few weeks, the position is still not filled, perhaps they contact a related association to post the job on their “Members Only job” — or they contract a recruiter. Job boards are a last resort.
    Can you break through to the Hidden Market?
    Mary Elizabeth emphasizes, “ANYONE (and I mean even if you are right out of college) can enjoy the benefits of the hidden job market. These jobs are available on all levels and in virtually all industries. The trick is to hone your focus so you actually achieve the results you want.”

    What are the advantages to you of connecting to the hidden job market? You get more job opportunities, more market leverage, less competition, a shorter interview process and bigger offers. You still might want to send resumes out via the internet as part of your strategy; but why would you focus there exclusively when you can have so much more control over your next career move?!

    You might be wondering precisely how to tap into the unadvertised job market. There are three strategies recommended by the Job Search Success System that help you focus on and find great jobs that will never see a major job board.

    Tip #1: Have a plan

    Launch a proactive job search. Know precisely what you are looking for, then reach out to get it. Know your primary target market(s), primary positions sought, geographic parameters, and timeline.

    Tip #2: Pick three main job search strategies for tapping into your market

    Here are two examples of techniques you can utilize:
    Offer your skills to growing or changing companies: Companies that are expanding, merging, acquiring other companies, rolling out new products or services, or moving are likely to be seeking new employees to help them with their transition.

    Make direct company contact: Contacting a company directly is a great way to take leadership and control over your job search. Are you interested in looking at the higher education market in your state or the top organic food manufacturers in the US? Or maybe the fastest growing healthcare oriented businesses in your city? All of these “lists” are accessible to you and allow you to tap right into your market of focus.

    Tip #3: Manage your job search like a marketing campaign

    Make a simple plan to move forward. Pick the hours and days each week that you plan to invest in your next career move. Block out those times and stick to them! Honor your commitment to your job search just like you would honor your commitment to your present employer to show up on time each day.

    During your job search, keep things simple and focus on your actions, not their immediate results! This way you can celebrate your initial “successes” – the completions of your daily and weekly goals. The results will unfold elegantly and abundantly and you will enjoy the satisfaction of success whether you are investing in marketing yourself or basking in the warm glow of landing your third or fourth interview!

    How are job boards sounding now?

  • 15 Dec 2015 2:26 PM | Anonymous

    By Wendy S. Enelow, CCM, MRW, JCTC, CPRW
    Enelow Enterprises, Inc.

    For true job search success, you must focus yourself and your campaign on the 3 M’s – Mindset, Merchandising, and Multichannel.

    MINDSET – Executive job search is sales, pure and simple. You have a product to promote (yourself), and you must create a strategic marketing campaign to sell that product. It is an active process to which you must commit your time, energy, and financial resources. No product is ever sold if it sits quietly on the shelf. It’s all about market visibility – in the right places at the right times.

    It’s also about having a clear mindset as to your value in the marketplace. With each passing day, the market becomes more competitive, and the candidates who manage their campaigns well are the candidates who receive the offers and opportunities. It is not necessarily the most qualified candidate who gets the position; it may be the individual who most effectively manages his or her search campaign. Therefore, your value must be clearly and concisely communicated, for it is the foundation for your entire campaign and your market success. It is what prospective employers and recruiters will want to buy, so be clear to communicate what you are selling.

    MERCHANDISING – Designing and writing powerful job search communications (e.g., resumes, cover letters, executive career profiles) requires a strong focus on merchandising your qualifications, achievements, successes, skills, and knowledge. In theory, you want to lay ALL of your experience on the table; then pick, choose, and merchandise those items that are most related to your current career objectives. Communicate who you “want to be” and NOT “who you have been.”

    Consider the following example of merchandising your resume. Assume you’re a Chief Marketing Officer with three different objectives. Objective #1 is another CMO position; objective #2 is a COO/CEO position; objective #3 is an International Business Development position. How you merchandise your qualifications and expertise will vary significantly between the three versions so that you are able to bring to the forefront the core skills and experience you have that are most related to those three different objectives.

    It is also critical that you appropriately merchandise your letters. Remember, you’re taking your entire career, consolidating it into a 1-3 page executive resume focused on your current objectives, and then consolidating it even further into a 2-3 paragraph executive cover letter. Yet, despite the consolidation, you must still focus on merchandising the same core qualifications.

    MULTICHANNEL – An integrated approach that uses multiple channels of distribution is what typifies a winning job search campaign. Use each and every channel that is appropriate for your search objectives. This should include networking, ad responses, targeted direct mail and email campaigns, Internet resume postings, Internet job postings ( is the #1 source), and executive job lead reports. Think of your multichannel campaign as a wheel with many spokes, each of which is vital and each of which contributes to your overall ability to move your campaign forward.

    Consider the 3 M’s to job search success as your new mantra and repeat the words over and over – Mindset, Merchandising, and Multichannel. If you can effectively build your campaign around these concepts, you will be one of the fortunate ones whose search campaign is quick, efficient, and successful.

  • 15 Dec 2015 2:24 PM | Anonymous

    By Brenda Bernstein
    The Essay Expert


    We have so many of them. Reasons to do things, reasons not to do things. Reasons why something is possible, and reasons why it’s not. Reasons to spend money, and reasons not to spend money. Reasons to give up, and reasons to take action.

    Pretty much every decision we make is based on a reason of some sort or another.

    Sometimes reasons conflict with each other. For instance, when I look at discounted mocha brownies in the day-old bin at my food coop, my brain comes up with many reasons to buy (and eat) the brownies. They are on sale! They will taste so good! I deserve it! Yet on most days, I do not buy them, because my reasons for not eating them far outweigh my reasons for indulging. I feel better. I look better. Kale will serve me so much better in the long run. Who cares if it costs twice as much and takes five times as much work to prepare?

    Reasons at work in your job search

    If you are a job seeker, you probably have lots of reasons to explain why you chose to apply or not apply for a particular job; why someone will or won’t hire you; and even why you are or are not going to hire a resume writer. You can choose to take the easy road, perhaps your default action (buying the mocha brownies), or you can choose to do something a little more difficult that will serve your career in the long term (invest in the kale).

    Annabelle’s story

    Two weeks ago I got a call from a woman (I will call her Annabelle) who was referred to me for resume assistance. Annabelle had just found out about a position that was available at a national non-profit in Washington, D.C., and she believed she was perfect for the job. The problem: Through her connections, Annabelle had discovered that the hiring process was quickly coming to a close, interviews were done, and the organization was making a final decision on the person they wanted to hire.

    Annabelle had also been told by a friend at the organization, who also happens to be a friend of mine, that the language in her resume was confusing and that she should hire me to get it into shape.

    Not giving up

    Many people would have given up as soon as they heard the words, “We are too far along in the hiring process.” Others would have given up at the prospect of spending hundreds of dollars unexpectedly to overhaul their resume.

    Annabelle could have listened to all the multitude of reasons against applying for this position. But she listened to the reasons to give it a shot.

    After all, this was a job she wanted more than anything, and no one had actually confirmed that anyone been offered the job yet. Also, there would be more positions open in the future, so it couldn’t hurt to send in her resume.

    Annabelle jumped into action. She hired The Essay Expert for two hours at our RUSH rate, reformatted her resume on her own, and, despite having a family emergency intervene in the midst of the process, managed to submit her materials to the organization the next day.

    Was it worth it?

    The day after sending in her application, Annabelle got an email: the organization wanted to talk to her. She was put through an expedited interview process, and during one of the interviews she could hear one of the managers there going through her resume line by line. He was impressed.

    Annabelle moved forward with confidence, incredibly well-prepared for her interviews after having talked to me about every bullet on her resume.

    Yesterday I received a call from Annabelle, who told me with great excitement that she had received an offer last Monday for her dream job. A job, you will remember, that was not available until the hiring manager saw Annabelle’s resume.

    Annabelle’s job search, beginning to end, for a job at a national non-profit in Washington, D.C.: 4 days. Wow.

    Annabelle did have a leg up because she had met the hiring manager at a prior event; her network played a crucial role in opening up this opportunity, as it does for many job seekers. She also believes, and I agree, that “a network can only take you so far; the resume is the only way others can justify your consideration to those who might not know you; it’s your only real voice in the matter.”

    She continues (and I promise I did not write this), “No matter how well you think you fit the position, no matter how well you have your contacts lined up, if your resume does not accurately reflect your level of professionalism or capability, hiring managers will never see the true candidate that you are. Having an ill-prepared resume should be the last reason why you don’t go after or get considered for a job. There’s no reason you can’t have a great resume to represent yourself!”

    Where are you stopped?

    If you are a job seeker, where are you getting stopped? Are you letting reasons keep you from applying to jobs you are qualified for? Are you using a mediocre resume in applications for your dream job because you don’t want to hire someone to bring it up a level or two?

    Do you believe that you can find a job in 4 days or do you think such a thing is impossible?

    What reasons are you listening to? The ones that have you give up (the equivalent for me of eating mocha brownies) or the ones that will move you forward in your career?

    I encourage you to believe that you can turn impossibilities into possibilities if you put your mind to it. Please use Annabelle’s story as an inspiration. And if you have a voice in your head saying, “That could never happen to me,” don’t give up. There is always a different set of reasons you can listen to, if only you are willing.

  • 15 Dec 2015 2:22 PM | Anonymous

    By Jack Mulcahy, ACRW
    Jack Mulcahy Resume Services

    It’s amazing how many job seekers do not realize the way the employment system works. They will come in with a resume that shows how smart they are; how well educated; how many years they worked at a particular position or company. Occasionally, one or two may even have had the good sense to include an accomplishment or two on their resumes.

    But their resumes, for the most part, are filled with job duties, rather than accomplishments. And as we know, companies don’t buy duties, they buy accomplishments.

    So I try to explain this simple fact to the job seeker, and invariably s/he will come back with, “Maybe so, but I’m different. When they see what I’ve done, they’ll realize how smart I am, and they just won’t be able to resist hiring me.”

    When I explain to them that the employer doesn’t care how smart you are, only what you can do for him/her, most of these people stare at me as if I had lobsters growing out of my ears. “I spent four years at [name the prestigious school]!” they’ll tell me. “How could they not want someone like me?”

    In my resume practice, I have actually had job seekers come to me in various states of depression because the world didn’t have a job waiting for them! These people were convinced that all they had to do was put their names out there and employers would fall all over each other trying to get them.

    This, dear readers, is called entitlement, and it is one of the biggest mistakes people make when seeking work. Entitlement is a road that will lead you to the edge of a high cliff with nowhere to go but down.

    What you need, if you are laboring under the illusion of entitlement, is a strong dose of reality. And the reality is that no employer in the world exists simply to give you a job.

    They aren’t waiting for a smart person like you to come along and save them. Employers exist to serve their customers and make a profit by doing so, and they will hire the person whom they judge will do the best job at helping them achieve those ends.

    Without customers, the company will not exist; without a primary mission of serving those customers, there will be no customers. Thus, by extension, the business you are seeking to work for is your customer; unless you approach the business with the express purpose of serving the needs of that business, you won’t have a customer, either.

    Check your entitlement at the door, please.

  • 15 Dec 2015 2:18 PM | Anonymous

    By Beverly Harvey

    Ah, you’ve found a really great position … you’ve accepted the offer … and you’ve turned in your resignation. But lo and behold, the senior management team of your current company is offering you an irresistible counter offer. Now what?

    Accepting a counteroffer is rarely a win-win situation. Counteroffers are a retention strategy used by companies to keep you on board until they can find a replacement. In making a counteroffer, your employer might appear to be doing you a big favor. You may feel flattered. But, don’t be deceived. A counteroffer isn’t about what’s best for you; it’s about what’s best for the company. You ARE NOT the main beneficiary.

    Statistics published by various executive search firms indicate that 90 to 95 percent of the people who accepted counteroffers ended up getting fired or leaving the company in six months to one year.

    From The Boss’ Perspective

    When you submit your resignation, most likely it will be a shock to your boss. His reaction will be panic and his thoughts may be something along these lines:

    • This couldn’t happen at a worse time.
    • How will we ever get the project/initiative competed on time without him/her.
    • My boss is going to be furious.
    • This is one of my best people and his/her leaving could cause serious morale problems with the team.
    • I’m working as many hours as I can. I can’t take on his/her load until I find someone to replace him/her.
    • This is going to look really bad on me … and my review is coming up

    So your boss, and probably his boss, or the Board, develop and present a counteroffer. They could offer you more money, a promotion, international opportunities, new technology, increased benefits, more stock/options, or better working conditions. But think about it, why weren’t you worth that much a week ago? Most likely, with these counteroffer promises, your boss is not trying to buy you back, but is merely buying time until he/she can replace you. Once you accept the counter offer, the employer immediately begins to search for your replacement.

    After all, you’re no longer perceived as a loyal team member. You’ll always be perceived as a loyalty risk. The company feels like they’ve been forced or blackmailed to give you more compensation or benefits. Where will the money come from? All companies have salary guidelines and budgets. The money has to come from somewhere in the budget. Will it affect division bonuses? Are your coworkers going to have to forgo their bonuses in order to make up for your raise?

    Once your coworkers find out, the relationship you now enjoy with them may never be the same. They may resent it. Most likely you’ll no longer be perceived as a trusted member of the management team. Plus, when promotion time comes up, you probably won’t be in the running. However, when cutbacks are mandated, you’ll be at the top of the list.

    A counteroffer may seem attractive because for most executives, starting a new job is stressful. There’s the natural fear of change and the unknown as well as concerns about learning a new company’s culture and complexities, and the degree of risk regarding your success in the new position. Yes, by accepting the counteroffer you will get more money or benefits for doing exactly what you’ve been doing all along.

    But think twice. The reasons you’ve decided to leave the company are probably not going to change. Most candidates change jobs for reasons other than money. So, be clear about why you decided to leave the company and ask yourself, will this counteroffer really change anything? Remember, the company is only making the counteroffer so they can keep you on until they find your replacement. Do you really think they’re going to change anything for you?

    The Recruiter’s Perspective

    The recruiter has invested hundreds of hours in finding, assessing, investigating, and presenting the right group of candidates. When a candidate backs out after accepting an offer, a recruiter stands to lose face with his client company. He will also lose months of time and allocated resources invested in the search, and possibly substantial income.

    Why should you care what the recruiter thinks? The value of a good recruiter should never be underestimated. Many recruiters develop career-long relationships with top-performing candidates and can help you achieve your career goals. Most recruiters will avoid candidates who renege on job offers (known as “no shows” in their field) and whose word can’t be trusted. Recruiters are a tight knit community. Word will spread like wildfire and you’re likely to be blacklisted.

     The Jilted Company’s Perspective

    The hiring company spent numerous hours interviewing you and may have paid your travel expenses and begun investing in you as their new executive. You negotiated the offer in good faith and agreed to a mutually acceptable offer. If you renege on your commitment now, the hiring company loses money. It must restart its search from scratch. By now, the other prospective candidates have long since accepted different positions or pursued other paths. The company will lose months of productivity and perhaps millions of dollars in revenue and market share because the position will be unfilled throughout another search.

    Why should you care about the company? Company executives talk, particularly when they’ve been jilted. They may feel revengeful and purposely make a few calls. It’s very likely you have permanently damaged your reputation in that industry.

    Resigning Gracefully

    Be very brief when you give notice. Try to anticipate your boss’ reaction and plan what you’re going to say. Emotions run high when a resignation is received. It’s a rejection! And often times, it’s a reflection on your boss. Try to remain calm despite the impulsive actions of your boss and other executives in the company.

    You don’t have to tell your boss where you are going, the nature of the job, or the compensation offered. They may ask you a lot of questions, but you are not obligated to answer any of them. Of course, you don’t want to burn any bridges, so you could say that your new employer has asked you to keep this information confidential. Assume a matter-of-fact attitude and understand that they want to know this information so they can develop a counteroffer.

    This is not the time to tell the boss exactly what you think of him and the company. It’s also not the time to tell your boss how underutilized or undervalued you feel. You may need references from your boss, senior management, and your peers sometime in the future.

    You’ll want to tell your boss that you’ve made the difficult decision to take another job, and that you came to the decision after much thought and consideration. Tell him that it’s been a wonderful opportunity and that you appreciate all that he has done for you, but it’s time for you to move on. Stand firm!

    When you resign … resign professionally, with dignity, and permanently.

  • 15 Dec 2015 2:16 PM | Anonymous


    There are many ways job seekers sabotage their search efforts. As humans and creatures of habit, we tend to get in our comfort zone and stay there. The biggest mistake for all of us is to keep doing the same thing we’ve been doing – even when we are not getting the results we want.

    If you are not getting the kinds of interviews and job offers you feel you should be getting, perhaps one of these common job search mistakes is the culprit.

    1. Lack of a clear and realistic career focus.

    This is a two-fold problem. Either a job seeker is desperate and “will take anything” and responds to any job whether he is a fit or not. Or, a job seeker doesn’t know what he wants to do and, using a vague me-centered objective, expects that a company can figure out where he’s a fit.

    An Executive Profile that focuses on the value a job seeker brings to an organization is critical to forwarding the process. Think niche. Position yourself as knowing a lot about a little rather than a little about a lot.

    2. Failure to identify and quantify marketable skills.

    A clear career goal by itself is not enough. An employer looks at a job seeker’s “documented track record” in relation to his own bottom line.

    The question a job search candidate needs to answer is, “how have my contributions positively impacted my employer.” Delineating and quantifying those accomplishments, versus listing a chronology of job titles and responsibilities, will distinguish you from the multitudes that rely on what they did rather than how they delivered.

    3. Inadequate marketing documents. (Resume, cover letter, follow up letters)

    Approximately 80% of job applicants are screened out at the paper stage. Candidates who fail to understand the power and importance of compelling marketing documents significantly reduce the chances of making it through the initial screen and therefore, increase the time they remain unemployed.

    It is not unusual for a job seeker to have 20 to 40 interviews before getting “the” job. In order to get interviews, your marketing documents have to sell you as a valuable asset rather than an all-purpose commodity.

    4. Poor references.

    How much thought have you put into choosing and prepping your references? More than 90% of prospective employers do reference checks. Inadequate and vague responses from your references can kill your opportunity, so choose your references wisely and prep your references by sharing with them what you feel is most important to the prospective position and/or the company.

    References should be tendered only when there is a job offer on the table.

    5. Flunking the interview.

    When you open your mouth, does your foot jump in? A whopping 90% of interviewees can’t answer even the most basic interview questions with confidence. And almost as many crash and burn during a pregnant pause.

    Common sense tells us that if you want to win the job, you need to ace the interview. Winning the offer requires thorough research, preparation, and practice – practice – practice. Don’t tell what you did, sell how you impact.

    Of course, the best positioning is to be the hunted rather than the hunter. A career plan … just like the business plan for your company … outlines where you want to be in 3-5 years with a clear strategy on how you will get there.

  • 15 Dec 2015 2:15 PM | Anonymous

    By Brenda Bernstein
    The Essay Expert

    Are you applying for a job or scholarship? The following list of pitfalls to avoid apply to *all* aspects of the process: resumes, cover letters, essays, and even your interview and thank you note. Here are 10 tips to help you distinguish yourself from the competition.

    1. Not answering the question

    If an employer or committee asks a question, be sure to answer it! They ask questions in part to hear your answers, and in part to make sure you can follow instructions and stay focused. Sometimes you can answer the question in a creative way, but make sure you have a professional review your answer (for interviews, practice this skill before the actual interview!). The perfect essay or interview response answers the question and shows off your key strengths and accomplishments.

    2. Exceeding the word or page limit

    Your application can get thrown out if you do not comply with the word and page limits. Do not take that chance! There is no point in writing a brilliant essay if it never gets read. Would you rather write 511 words that never get read or 500 words that do? If you are having trouble staying within the word and page limits provided, work with an expert to help you concisely say everything you want to say. Practice concise verbal answers too before you get to your interview!

    3. Pointing out why you do not qualify for the position

    Why would you highlight the reasons an employer would not want to hire you, or the reasons why someone else might be a better recipient of that scholarship? Many applicants make that very mistake. You can be sure that the people reading your application or sitting across from you in an interview already know what’s missing from your application – they have seen your resume. If they are talking to you, it means they are willing to overlook some of your weak points. Showcase your strengths so that the committee trusts you to do the job even if you don’t meet every qualification on paper.

    4. Bragging

    While you do not want to speak negatively about yourself, you also do not want to brag. A caveat: Many people think they are bragging and they are not – they are just stating their accomplishments. However, sometimes an essay or interview response can sound too self-congratulatory, even to someone wanting to hear about your best. The best policy is to provide facts that demonstrate something extraordinary about your accomplishments. You may want to hire someone to help you strike a balance between selling yourself and going overboard with self-praise.

    5. Making grammatical and spelling errors

    Employers and committees want candidates to demonstrate attention to detail and the ability to communicate effectively. Grammatical and spelling errors demonstrate the lack of these abilities. Slow down in an interview so that you sound professional. And never submit a resume, essay or application without having an expert review it! Your investment will give you peace of mind and unprecedented results.

    6.      Lack of clear organization or focus

    If your writing or speaking lacks organization or focus, you are almost sure to lose your audience’s attention. In a good essay, the writer is clear about the purpose of every word and every sentence. Stay focused as to what you are writing, where you are going, and why you’re saying what you’re saying. Sometimes, focus is difficult to maintain on your own; after all, you understand yourself perfectly and have infinite patience for yourself! It takes trained eyes and ears to evaluate whether you’re really getting your point across.

    7.      Speaking in generalities

    Here’s an example of a sentence that is too general to have its intended effect: “I am a hard working, determined individual driven by success and the love for acquiring knowledge.” Without examples of this hard work, determination, and love of knowledge, this sentence doesn’t say much of anything. The applicant would be better served by giving a concrete example of even one of these attributes. By describing a challenge she faced and how she handled it, she will keep the audience’s attention and make the impression she wants.

    8.      Complaining or speaking negatively about past experiences

    If you say anything negative about a prior position, your reader or interviewer will expect you to be complaining about your new position in short order. There are ways to give even the most negative experiences a positive spin. Not sure it’s possible? Get help from a writing expert who can help.

    9.      Using formal or stilted language in written materials

    You are writing to human beings. Write to them in conversational English. Although you do not want to get too casual with your language, you also do not want to sound awkward or pretentious. We recommend reading your writing aloud before pushing the send button. You might realize things about your language – and your punctuation – that you would never have noticed by reading silently!

    10.  Including extra information or attachments

    Unless expressly invited to do so on an application, do not attach outside information, attachments, videos, links to websites, PDFs, etc. as supplementary materials. If you are unsure about the guidelines, there is no shame in calling the company to ask. It’s better to be safe and to follow instructions exactly.

    Achieving success with your job and scholarship applications requires a lot of work and a lot of revisions. Get your essays into top form – and get the position or scholarship you want.

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