How Many Hours per Week Should One Dedicate to the Job Search? It All Depends

The job search is a full-time job is a mantra we’ve heard many times. If a full-time job is 40 hours or even 35 hours a week, does it mean job seekers should dedicate that much time to the search? What’s the ROI on spending that much time? Is the search being conducted properly or is it poor time management?

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These are all questions people in the career development field have, including job seekers themselves. Currently I’m conducting a poll that asks the question, “How many hours a week should one dedicate to the job search?” Most of the voters are leaning toward a lower number of hours.

Thirty-two (32) percent of participants have voted for 0-10 hours a week and 32% have chosen 10-20 hours a week. The other options are 20-30 hours a week (18%) and 30-40 plus hours a week (18%). I voted for 20-30 hours a week. I doubt I’m going to be the winner of this poll.

So, this means that the job search isnt a full-time job according to 64% of the voters.

Some of my colleagues refuse to vote because there are too many variables, and I get this. What constitutes job searching, one of them asked? Does networking count? I answered a resounding “yes.” What about research one asked? Of course research counts.

The reason why I asked the question is to answer another question, as well: how should a job seeker balance their search and life? This sounds similar to achieving work-life balance, and it is. Searching for work is…work.

Let’s break the job search into two areas, looking for work and living life. Both are obviously important.

Looking for work is time-consuming

Like people who are employed and successful at what they do, job seekers are more productive when their search is focused and planned. It’s helpful to break down the activities involved in your job search, select a few to prioritize, and stick to them.

Let’s look at some common job-search activities. I’ve listed them in order of my personal priorities:

  1. In-Person networking in your community and small groups.
  2. Networking at formal events.
  3. Online networking via Zoom and other video formats.
  4. Writing approach letters to companies of interest.
  5. Contacting recruiters or staffing agencies.
  6. Calling on your alumni.
  7. Using job boards.
  8. Volunteering.
  9. Taking time off.

Your list of priorities might differ from mine, which is fine. I see the job search as being more proactive. I advise that job seekers choose four or maybe five of these activities, as trying to accomplish more would spread them thin.

Other time-consuming, albeit valuable, activities include:

  • Writing a resume template and then tailoring it to every job.
  • Getting on LinkedIn, writing a profile, developing a network, engaging with their network.
  • Researching every position and company before writing a resume and prepping for an interview.
  • Informational meetings.

These are just some of the action items required to conduct a successful job search. Many of them are more time-consuming than one would think. For example, with networking you have to figure in commute time and an hour and a half at the event.

Updating resumes is ongoing, as are cover letters. This could take two hours per document. Serious job seekers will put in at least two hours of research for each position. Multiply that by five applications. Already we see the hours per week adding up; ergo my 20-30 hours a week estimate.

My valued connection, Laura Smith-Proulx, works with executive level job seekers and has a different perspective on this question:

I tend to fall in the 10-hour camp, because the job seekers I serve are executives in the midst of a confidential search. They’re usually ramping up their use of LinkedIn, deciding how open they can be with their teams or Boards, dealing with an M&A action that’s driving their exit, responding to a recruiter search for a key executive (internally or externally), and / or working a well-established network.

These activities are on top of a demanding leadership role, family obligations, and other requirements that don’t stop for a job search.

An unemployed mid-career professional, however, would probably be spending more time sifting job postings, making new recruiter connections, filling their bucket list with ideal employers, and deciding how to identify and cultivate relationships with hiring authorities at these companies.

Another valued connection, Teegan Bartos, agrees with me to some extent:

This answer completely depends on the job seeker, but if you forced me to pick an answer for someone unemployed [they] would be in the 20-30 hour camp with high ROI job-seeker activities in the very beginning and then reduced once resume, LinkedIn, scripts, etc were nailed down.

And what about life?

Employees who are fortunate to have work-life balance are not anchored to their desk or in the field. They have the time to see their children’s events, go to a movie and dinner, hike and walk, actually vacation on their vacations, etc. Why should it be different for people in the job search?

If you’re looking for work, your already frazzled. Worries about money and feelings of failing might seep into your mind. You might fear what the future holds, especially if there’s a barrier to employment.

Your first instinct after losing a job might be to lick your wounds and take some time off. I advise no more than a week. I also advise that you take structured time off. For instance, you rise every morning at the same time as you did when working. You take a morning walk or hit the gym. You take some time to reflect. Before long, you will be looking for work in earnest.

My concern for people who are in the job search is the tendency for burn out. Spending six hours a day, seven days a week behind their computer is some job seekers’ idea of a productive job search.

I had a client who confessed to me that he was spending easily 60 hours a week looking for work. When I told him to take some time off, he sullenly told me that he had to find a job. His marriage was in ruins and so was his health.

For some like my client, it may seem frivolous to treat themselves to time off from the job search. They feel it’s counterproductive or that they don’t deserve it. But taking time off is productive; it’s needed to succeed in the marathon called the job search.

Wellness can’t be overlooked. Perhaps, being unemployed requires more attention to wellness and less attention to spending unproductive time in front of a computer looking for jobs on Indeed.com, Monster.com, and (dear I say) LinkedIn.

If trying to enjoy life’s pleasures while looking for employment, is unattainable for you, I suggest seeking therapy. Many people do. It’s not unusual and, as tell my clients, it’s totally normal. When things are dark, don’t hesitate to get professional help.

And what about time availability? Another valued connection, Shelley Piedmont, makes a solid point:

For some, they may only be able to do 5-10. Others have the luxury of having more time available and can do 20-30. I always suggest that people do their best for their particular circumstances. But it is important to remember that more time isn’t always better. Use the time, whatever you have, efficiently.”

The final say?

Alison Doyle writes career advice for The Balance Careers. Back in June of 2020 she speculated that the ideal number of hours to search for work should be 25, given other factors that might be involved. In an article, she wrote:

It would be easy to say that finding employment should be a person’s full-time job, but, realistically speaking, 40 hours per week of job search activity would be more than most individuals could handle.

You don’t want to burn out and not accomplish anything productive.

A CareerBuilder survey reports that, on average, job seekers spend 11 hours a week searching for jobs. If you can put in more time than that, you’ll be ahead of the competition.

A reasonable schedule would be25 hours per week for those who are not working at a job or an internship. For those who are working, 15 hours per week would be a more realistic amount of time.”

Is Alison Doyle the final say. Are the people who voted for 10-20 hours a week the final say? Am I the final say? (I surely hope not.) Like I said at the beginning of this post, it all depends.

4 Steps Executive Job Seekers Can Take to Network Successfully

It goes without saying that executive job seekers achieve success primarily through networking. It also goes without saying that to network successfully one must know where to look for networking contacts.

During the pandemic, in-person networking was put on hold, and to some extent it’s still on hold. The alternative has been to find contacts with whom to network online. However, it’s not always evident where to look for the right contacts. This is where a tool like The Org can help executive job seekers in their quest.

Networking is particularly necessary for executive job seekers—CEOs, CFOs, COOs, CIOs, and the like—to conduct their job search. The phrase “Hidden Job Market” is a reality for these job seekers, as the positions they seek aren’t numerous (there is usually one CEO, CFO, COO, etc., per company.) And when companies want to fill a position at this level, they are more likely to source executives from other companies or consider executives who are referred to them.  

To say the road is a tough one to travel for executive job seekers is an understatement. Their job search usually takes longer. Even if they receive a severance package of six months to a year, there’s a chance they’ll burn through it and need to collect unemployment insurance benefits (UI).

While the average duration of unemployment is 27 weeks, it can exceed more than a year for executive job seekers.

Developing a target companies list

If executive job seekers want to take matters into their own hands, as opposed to scouring the job boards for “available” positions, it would be wise for them to create a target company list of at least 20 companies of interest.

Donuts to dollars their job search will last longer if they rely entirely on job boards like Indeed.com, Careerbuilder.com, Monster.com, and the like. Everyone and their brother is applying on these job boards for similar jobs.

Sarah Johnston is a former recruiter turned executive career coach. (She also has more than 1,000,000 followers on LinkedIn.) She tells her clients to develop a target company list before anything else.

“Executives’ best strategy in the job search is to network before a job opening is announced,” Sarah states. “This requires them to know whom to approach. A target company list is the first step in the process.” She further explains that once they have an extensive list of companies, they should contact employees working at the companies.

One question executive job seekers have is how to identify their target companies. It’s a process that takes time and forethought. A mistake some of them make is reacting only to job advertisements.

When I ask my executive-level clients which companies are on their target list, they often tell me companies to which they’ve already applied. According to Glassdoor.com, this reactionary approach hurts their chances of landing jobs at their desired companies, as they are competing against as many as 250 applicants.

Learning which companies to follow

A site like The Org makes it very easy for an executive-level job seeker to find companies for their target company list. They simply need to locate their industry, of which there are more than 270 on The Org, and select it.

A job seeker who is interested in working for Pharmaceutical companies will find that there are 2,347 Pharma companies worldwide. If said person wants to search United States companies only, they can choose the US among available countries. This will provide them with 1,275 companies from which to choose.

Narrowing down companies for various states is more of a challenge and will require another source like LinkedIn to help them. Job seekers can also follow companies they’ve select for their company list which can be easily accessed from the drop-down menu in their account. In essence, the target company list is located in one place.

Once executive-level job seekers have established their target company list, she’ll research the companies on it. If she works in the Pharmaceutical industry, she might start with a list of the following companies: Janssen, Bristol Myers, Pfizer, Gilead Sciences, Eli Lilly, Amgen, Novo Nordisk, Boston Scientific, TevaPharmaceutical, Biogen, and Bausch Health.

From this list of companies the executive job seeker will use The Org to identify various key players who work at her chosen companies. An astute executive job seeker will use multiple sources to research the goings-on at her companies of interest.

Reaching out to key players at target companies

To succeed in networking, executive job seekers need to know not only whom to contact, they also need to know the people with whom they’re going to speak. If a job seeker wants to have a meeting with someone like Stephen Williamson from Thermo Fisher, she won’t find his bio on LinkedIn. The Org provides his bio, including where he worked prior to Thermo Fischer (it’s Honeywell in case you’re wondering), and the fact that he earned his Bachelor’s at the University of Wales.

When Gerald Schmidt was looking for a job, he would have benefited from The Org to contact executives at companies in his industry. Gerald was a Vice President at a mid-size defense company until his separation from the business in late 2015. His job search lasted a little more a year but could have been shorter if the site had been available at the time (it wasn’t founded until 2017). 

He networked with past colleagues to land a VP position at L3Harris but says, “My job search would have been faster had I known about The Org. I would have had an easier time reaching out to executives who work in my industry.”

Someone like Gerald could identify other VPs at companies of interest and reach out to them with an email or a phone call to arrange informational meetings. Informational meetings are a great way to learn from like-minded people who work in similar companies, and they can also help with building a larger network.

Gerald participated in many informational meetings over the course of his job search. “During these meetings,” he said, “I asked to be introduced to others, and I always offered to do the same. It’s such a great way for both participants to expand their networks and extend their reach.”

If an executive job seeker needs an introduction to executives at multiple companies, at least they know who to ask for. As Gerald says, it’s a great way to extend one’s network.

Preparing for interviews with important information

Gathering important information on networking contacts isn’t the only way a site like The Org can come in handy. It’s essential for executive job seekers to know the players in their industry when they are engaged in the interview process.

Sure, candidates need to know details on the company to which they’re applying but knowing the org chart of other companies in their industry can also come in handy, especially if it’s the competition that comes up in the conversation.

Arriving for the interview with knowledge of 10 pertinent executives who work for the competition will impress the interviewers and perhaps be one of the reasons why a candidate is hired.

Take an executive candidate who is applying for a COO position at a mid-size company: knowing the specifics of executives at other companies through networking and extensive research tells the employer that the candidate has the ability to succeed in business networking.

Another way a candidate can succeed in an interview process is by knowing the org chart of a company to which he’s applying. Having a sense of who will be interviewing him will be essential. Not all companies will provide that information or think to provide it, so it is to the executive’s best interest to plan for the lack of information.

For example, someone who’s applying to Walt Disney would be wise to do a thorough research of the 14 executives reporting to their CEO, Bob Chapek. Smart executive job candidates will use Google or LinkedIn to do a deeper dive into the specifics of Walt Disney’s executives.

_______________________________

While Gerald Schmidt and other executive job seekers, prior to the founding of The Org, would have benefited from the information the site offers, it’s not too late for current executive job seekers to take advantage of the information that is constantly growing on the site. Career coaches like Sarah Johnston will continue to encourage their clients to conduct a proactive job search. Creating a target companies list, reaching out to key players in the companies, and researching the interviewers before an interview are all parts of a proactive job search.

9 Obvious Mistakes Mature Workers are Making with Their Resume

This article is inspired by a post I wrote that resonated with many LinkedIn users.* The topic of the post touched a nerve with older job seekers who feel that everything they’ve accomplished in their long career should be included on their resume. This is one mistake I save to the last to address.

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While this advice can apply to job seekers of any age, it is particularly pertinent to those above the age of 50. And if they haven’t had to look for work in 20 years, they should pay close attention to some of the mistakes they might be making.

Let go of your words

Your resume reflects what you’ve done in your career, so it’s personal and you’re proud of the document you’ve written, or had someone write it with your input. I totally get this. But this is perhaps the first mistake you’re making; you’re holding on to sentences, paragraphs, and bulleted items that suck.

Harsh to say but the truth. While you can’t see this, others can. You must listen to trusted sources. I’m not a trusted source to every job seeker, but I am a trusted source to people in occupations like sales, marketing, teaching, and some others. Find the trusted source and listen to what they have to say. Then…make changes.

Don’t make your resume a job description

I wrote above that your resume reflects what you’ve done. This is only a part of the role your resume plays. The most important role your resume plays is showing employers what you can do for them. Through relevant accomplishment statements, your resume will accomplish this.

Many resumes I see look like a job description. In fact, some job seekers I’ve coached have copied and pasted job descriptions to their resume, thinking that it will hit all marks. Think about this. A job description is written for a reason, which is to express the needs of individual employers, not all employers.

They won’t believe it if they don’t see it

You say in your Summary that you’re dynamic, results-oriented, customer-centric, and a bunch of other platitudes; but why should employers believe you without proof? Instead of using tired cliches to describe you, give evidence right up front.

For example, “Achieves more than 95% ‘Excellent’ rating on customer surveys.” This is proof of your diligence, communications, adherence to customers’ needs, and other traits employers seek. “Identifies and reports more bugs in software than 90% of technicians” is another example of proof, not simply saying it.

You’re not the only cat on the block

One and done, you think. You have had a stellar career as VP of operations. You’ve worked at notable blue-chip companies. Your latest salary was $250,000. Yes, you have been at the top of your occupation for 20-plus years.

This is a cold fact: so have other VPs of operations been at the top of their occupation. Your tunnel vision prevents you from writing a document that will get you to the first round of interviews because you fail to put in the work of writing a tailored resume that includes relevant accomplishments.

Don’t write a tome

You might like reading your resume, but hiring authorities who read many resumes don’t enjoy reading pages and pages of verbiage. In fact, they don’t enjoy reading resumes at all. It’s part of their job. So if you think your words will impress everyone, you’re mistaken.

Also, keep your word bites small. No more than three lines, maybe four, I tell my clients. Anything beyond four lines gets cumbersome to read. Hiring authorities will give your resume anywhere from six to 20 seconds to review before reading it in its entirety. Make their job easier by keeping it shorter than three pages.

Keyword stuffing is a no-no

You’ve probably been warned about the notorious applicant tracking system (there are more than 200 of these bad boys) which automatically scans your resume to see if it has the keywords required for the job.

This is hogwash. There are hardworking recruiters and HR staff who manipulate their applicant tracking system. Some of these folks claim to read every resume that’s stored in the system (god bless them), but there are many who read a select few. Therefore, it’s important that you write your resume for human consumption.

Don’t assume they know what you’ve accomplished

I get this a lot, “people in my industry know what I’ve accomplished.” This might be true but chances are they don’t. You say you wrote a standard operating procedure that improved productivity. Awesome. What was it for? Who is “everyone”? What was the ultimate result?

  • Improved productivity 55% by authoring a standard operating procedure (SOP) that clearly explained in five steps how to manage a 33-person human resources department stationed across the nation.

This is sure to entice interviewers to ask what the five steps were, in which case you have a story to tell.

How your resume looks does matter

Today resumes are written with the intention of being easily read on the screen and on smartphones. This means that the font style matters. You were probably told back in the day that serif fonts like Times New Roman are best read on paper. Those days are gone.

When I see a resume written with sanserif fonts like Arial or Calibri, it tells me that the person is up with the times. First impressions matter. Your resume will most likely be the first impression you make, so don’t start off shouting, “I’m old.” Others might disagree, but the resumes written today use sanserif font.

*Don’t tell your life’s story

This brings me back to the post I shared titled: “Your resume says you’re old.” Let me share the post here:

Sitting with a client the other day, we were going over his #resume, which was not half bad, but it showed 30 years of experience. I pointed this out to him and said, your resume shouts “old.”

But, he responded, I want to show progression.

Here’s the thing, I told him, you didn’t get to be director of marketing without starting at MarCom or some entry-level position; it’s assumed.

But, he continued, I want to show I worked at (company name).

Again, I told him, you’ve worked at large, well-known companies your whole career.

I’m going to keep the 30 years on my resume, he concluded. I’m proud of what I did.

Battle lost, but I tried.

I read an article from Sarah Johnston that talks about how your resume should brand you. She draws an apt analogy of how on a recent shopping visit she noticed that The Gap did a poor job of branding itself.

And then she goes on to talk about how job seekers need to think about how they’re branding themselves with their resume. The incident with my client points out that he branded himself as old.

Whether we want to admit this or not, companies are looking at younger workers, and they’re hesitant to entertain older workers. Which, when we think about it, makes no sense.

In parting, I asked my client what he was going to do over the weekend.

I’m going to run a 5K and then I’m going to start building a deck on our summer home, he told me.

He sounded young to me.

4 Thoughts on Sharing Posts on LinkedIn

The problem with public proclamations is that when you make them you have to practice what you preach, lest you be labeled a hypocrite. Case in point, I’ve stated that one should only share three to four posts a week. This means that if I’ve reached four posts by Wednesday, I’m shut off for the week. At least in my mind I am.

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But, like a diet, this is probably a good thing—making public proclamations, that is. Otherwise I would be flooding my connections’ feeds with content that is forced and without merit. I mean, how does one think of content on a daily basis? Or twice a day, as I’ve seen?

I could be wrong. There are some LinkedIn members who hit the gridiron everyday and seem to be doing fine in terms of the impressions, reactions, and comments they receive for their posts. They believe that by posting everyday they’ll be seen more often and build their brand.

But here’s the question: how long can they maintain the routine? The old fable of the tortoise and the hare is apropos. Eventually you run out of steam and lose the ground you’ve gained. Following are some suggestions for posting.

Don’t post too often

Seeing an overabundance of posting in my LinkedIn feed gave me the provocation to write this article. It appears that either LinkedIn is encouraging its members to post more often to attain more impressions, reactions, and comments; or people are hearing whispers in their ears to this effect.

I conducted a poll that asked “How many times should one post on LinkedIn?” the results were surprising. My suggestion of posting three to four times a week (26%) came in a long second to posting only one to two times a week (59%). Posting more than five times a week earned 16%, thus supporting my assertion.

Surely posting only once or twice a week isn’t serving your network who rely on your content. As well, you won’t appear on the platform often enough to be remembered and get those numbers of reactions, impressions, and comments you yearn for.

On the other hand, posting every day and more is definitely too much. It says to me that you don’t take at least one day the whole week. I worry for your health and sanity if you think you need to post this often. And, quite honestly, you come across as desperate if you’re posting this often.

Don’t share content that adds no value

Related to posting too often on LinkedIn is failing to provide value to your network. Value is defined as the monetary worth of something. In this sense, value refers to providing worth to your network. This is vague, but think of it this way: you provide an aha moment for everyone who reads, views, or hears your content.

Returning to posting too often, I strongly believe that if you’re sharing original posts more than four days a week, your content will start to lose the value you hope to deliver to your network. There is a water-down effect where your content is diluted and lacks impact.

On the flip-side to not posting enough is losing inertia for posting at least three or four times a week. This happens to the best of us. We ask the muse to speak to us but, alas, she doesn’t. In this case, it’s advised to take a breather rather than posting shite.

I’ve found that including my connections in the articles I post is one way to add value to my network. I call it letting them do the heavy lifting, and my network appreciates it. Doing this also gives my contributors visibility. There are those who don’t share the wealth—perhaps they feel it will affect their brand.

Don’t post and ghost

This is the definition of conceit; you share a post and don’t respond to LinkedIn members’ comments. Often I’ve seen people leave great comments to a long post, but the poster doesn’t respond to their thoughtful comments.

When you don’t respond to others comments, you kill the conversation immediately. Reciprocity is one of the pillars of proper networking. It’s akin to telling someone at a networking event about yourself and then walking away. Is this a way to have a conversation? Of course not.

I’m particularly intolerant of this behavior. When I see a post from someone who does this, I scroll on down my feed. And if someone like this tags me in a post, I don’t engage. I know that if I do, said person will not respond to my comments.

The solution to over-posting

My valued connection, Karen Tisdell, said it nicely; she will comment nine times to every post she shares. This means if she shares a post every day, she will have to comment 63 times. I would never hold Karen to this, but I can tell you that she writes many more comments than posts.

Writing daily comments is really the solution to being top of mind on LinkedIn. It tells LinkedIn members that you’re more interested in continuing a conversation than posting for the sake of posting, or you value their comments and won’t ghost them.

Let’s hear it from some of those who voted in the poll

Kevin Turner

As many times as you want, Bob, if you can produce original high quality content, nurture all of the conversations, and your audience demands more. For me that’s 1 to 3 times a week.

Ed Han

I don’t think there’s a one-size-fits-all answer to this question, personally.

Some people can pull this off credibly once/week, others at a different number, but to me, it’s really about content aligned with the purpose in your presence on the platform.

I post daily during the week because that’s the tradition I have maintained for over a decade. But I’m unusual in this respect. This is and not necessarily a model to be embraced.

Hannah Morgan

Bob, only 30-40% of your network will see your posts. And most users are casual and don’t log in more than once a month. Therefore, posting 5-6 times a week increases the odds that the right people in your network will notice. I have never heard of anyone unfollowing anyone for posting too often or for posting low quality content.

 Biron Clark  

I can definitely confirm that all of my posts do better when I post more often, up to once a day.

Yet LinkedIn is no longer important for my business/audience growth and so I post once a week now 🙂 Attention has moved to bigger things.

But there’s zero doubt in my mind that the algorithm rewards those who post quite often… at least multiple times during the work week.

We can debate the other parts of the algorithm but this is crystal clear to me.

So, for anyone out here trying to grow their audience/brand, post 3-5 times, Mon – Fri. Minimum.

Shelley Piedmont, SPHR, SHRM-SCP  

I think you should post as much as you have good content to disseminate. That might be one post a week or seven. What you should not do is a post for posting’s sake. If people don’t get any value from what you post, you are not serving your audience. And isn’t that the point of posting, after all, Bob?

Tom Powner ➜ NCOPE ➜ CPRW ➜ CEIP ➜ CDCC (He/Him)

Bob McIntosh Whichever amount you choose, be consistent and ensure you are providing current, relevant, quality, and honest content. I am busy working on my business and clients; I find it hard to find the time to post effectively, so I choose to be active in adding to posts of others and provide added value.

Deanna Russo

Regardless of how many times you should post, you should always be consistent and you should interact with people via comments too, Bob McIntosh!

Mic Adam

The answer is not SHOULD be WANT TO I think. Choose a frequency you can keep up rather than aiming for a frequency you struggle to keep to. That being said, it makes sens to post at least once a week to keep your visibility at a reasonable level.

Paula Christensen CPRW, CEIC, CJSS

I’ve fluctuated due to client load and personal/family circumstances. I do try to stay active by adding to others’ posts.

Rich Ormond

I get the argument to post regularly from a metrics or algorithm standpoint. But if you step back and look at the big picture, how realistic (or desirable) is it to post so regularly? If every single person on LinkedIn posted something original 3-4 times a week, how would you find the valuable content through the massive amount of repetitious noise?

Like most people, I suspect, if I have a truly original and insightful thought even once a month, that’s a win. Also, you’re able to generate great original content regularly, Bob, because (lucky for us) it’s part of your job.

Most people don’t have the time to be social media managers on top of their regular work. If you really are going to argue for quality over quantity, then there should be no particular goal in how often you post.

6 Reasons Why Cover Letters Should be Part of Your Job Search

Look, everyone has the right to voice their opinion. So when recruiters say they don’t read cover letters, it doesn’t offend me. And it doesn’t cause me to trash my cover letter webinar. I certainly don’t advise my clients to refrain from writing them.

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Nothing I can say will change the opinions of cover-letter naysayers. That’s not my intent. My intent is to reinforce the need for job seekers in certain industries to continue writing tailor-made cover letters.

Not every hiring authority is a recruiter

Some recruiters are so hellbent on killing cover letters that it’s almost amusing. “Almost” is the operative word. I find it irritating when recruiter summarily dismiss cover letters basically because they don’t have time to read them. Recruiters are busy people, as I’ve written here.

But here’s the thing: not all job seekers reach out to recruiters, nor do recruiters reach out to all job seekers. Depending on the industry, recruiters are few and far between or nonexistent, such as non-profit, government, academia. As well, recruiters don’t dabble in lower-paid occupations.

To assume all hiring authorities don’t read cover letters is a dangerous assumption to make. Keep in mind that hiring managers read cover letters to get a better sense of a candidate’s abilities and personality. Cover letters provide another dimension to a candidate that resumes might not.

Cover letters demonstrate your ability to write

A major reason why your cover letter needs to be well written is because you’re applying for a position that requires you to write. Take marketing as an example; writing is a huge part of the role. Yes, marketers will most likely have to provide a portfolio in the interview process, but a cover letter is the first point of contact.

Your cover letter needs to accomplish two major goals. First, it needs to demonstrate the purported value you’ll deliver to the employer. The same value you express with your resume, but more directed toward the position at hand. Are you regurgitating your resume? Definitely not.

Your cover letter also must express your passion for the job at hand without being superfluous and wasting the reader’s time. I am immediately turned off when I read a cover letter that is all fluff and contains no substance. This is a common complaint of many recruiters and one reason why they don’t read them.

Your cover letter should be no longer than one page long. Within the one-page cover letter, you need to compellingly explain why you should be interviewed for the position. This is a challenge for some job candidates who tend to be verbose. Part of great writing is brevity.

Cover letters don’t have to be boring

Boring is as boring does. Please do the reader a favor and don’t open, and continue, your cover letter with boring content.

“I was excited to see on LinkedIn the position ABC company is trying to fill a project manager’s position.” How boring is this? It’s extremely boring, and a line I often see in job seekers’ cover letters. The first line of your cover letter must grab the reader’s attention, lest they discontinue reading it.

Something like, “Stop the hiring process! I’m your candidate” doesn’t bode well, either. Or does it? Some hiring authorities might like the broad approach, but not me. I prefer something strong but not obnoxious.

In the opening paragraph describe a challenge the industry is facing and state why you are the solution. In the second and third paragraphs, prove you’re the solution to the problem. The final paragraph should shout why you’re excited about the opportunity.

There you have the format for a un-boring cover letter. Keep in mind that your cover letters will change with each job to which you apply.

Every cover letter should be modified for each job

That’s right, your cover letters should be tailored to each job. Look at it this way; if you’re wooing potential love romances, would you send the same love letter to each one? Of course not. Every person is different and deserves your appreciation.

The same concept applies to cover letters; you want to show each employer the love they deserve. This means that research is essential. Show that you understand the requirements and challenges of the job, and demonstrate how you will excel at the requirements.

To further show the love, briefly explain why you’re interested in working at the company. As mentioned above, don’t write gushing verbiage that would make the reader gag. Like the love interest analogy, you want to show the company that they are special.

You might keep a cover-letter template to modify for ever job. From my experience, I wrote a totally new document every time I applied for a position.

You can be more personal with your cover letter

One thing I stress in my resume writing webinars, as well as with my clients, is that their resumes should be devoid of fluff. I’m not saying cover letters should contain fluff, but the words “love,” “enjoy,” even “outstanding,” “superior,” etc., have their place to express enthusiasm and performance.

But wait, Bob, you said earlier to avoid fluff. Yes I did, but I’m talking about a sentence, maybe two, where you’re giving the reader a sense of your personality. What I meant by fluff is a cover letter is bullshit from the beginning to the end of your cover letter. This is a major turnoff for any reader.

The job ad says, “The candidate for this job must be dynamic and a real team player.” I abhor seeing these words on a resume, but in a cover letter is a different matter. Such as, “I’ve been told by my manager that I’m a dynamic copywriter and that I contribute a great deal to the marketing team.” Their words, not yours.

Check all the boxes

This reason for writing a cover letter is listed last because it isn’t the strongest one. However, it is worth noting that some employers might make a hiring decision based on who includes a cover letter with their application.

The general rule is that if a cover letter is required for the position, definitely include one that meets the tips above. If a cover letter is not asked for, check the box and include one in your packet. Lastly, if the job ad clearly states to not send a cover letter, don’t send one.


My opinion of cover letters isn’t a popular one among the recruiters I know, but I’d like you to keep what I said earlier in mind; not all hiring authorities are recruiters. And…some recruiters appreciate cover letter, albeit a small amount.

8 Major LinkedIn App Features, and How they Differ From the Computer Platform

It’s estimated that at least 60% of #LinkedIn members use the mobile app. Further, a poll I conducted on LinkedIn showed that 65% of the participants use the the app more than their computer (desktop or laptop).

Those who chose the the computer platform enjoy the ease of use; whereas those who chose the app cite convenience as their reason. Case in point: if I’m writing a long post, I’ll be at my computer. If I’m waiting for my daughter to get out of soccer practice, I’ll be on my LinkedIn app.

I’m going to dive into eight major LinkedIn features on both platforms and discuss how some of features differ between the mobile app and computer platform, so you can understand the advantages and disadvantages of using both.

1. Homepage/Feed

There’s no better place to start than the home page. It isn’t very sexy on the app, but what do you expect from a device that’s approximately 6″x3″?

This is where you’ll usually land if you’re opening the app for the first time in the day. Otherwise you’ll land on whichever page was opened last. This is also where your (ideally) relevant conversation is streaming.

There are many features located on the home page that aren’t obvious to the average user. The features that are easy to find are: Home, My Network, Post, Notifications, and Jobs. In the past they were in a different order than the computer.

Rest assured that the mobile app contains many of the features the computer provides. It’s just a matter of finding said features. One thing that is hard to get used to, at least for me, is locating the Messaging icon on the App. It’s at the top right-hand corner.

The computer platform lays out the features like a landscape canvas (image below). The icons (Home, My Network, Jobs, Messaging, and Notifications) are listed at the top of every page. Groups is conveniently hidden in the Work drop-down. Note how they’re listed in different order on the computer.

Some nice information at your fingertips on the computer platform on the left-hand side are your photo, complete Headline, Who Viewed Your Profile (within the past 90 days if you have premium) Views of your posts, and Your Groups, Recent Hashtags, and others. To access this information on the App, tap on your photo.

2. Search

This feature is extremely powerful. With it you can search for—in this order—People, Posts, Jobs, Companies, Groups, Schools, Events, Courses, and Services. You’ll have to swipe left to find Schools, Courses, Events, and Services.

Every feature you find on the computer (image below) is available on the App, save for All Filters, which we’ll get to shortly.

Doing a search. If you’re searching on the App for people, simply type in an occupation like “program manager” and you’ll have the option to continue your search for the occupation in People, Services, Jobs, Posts, Courses, Schools, Events, Groups, and Companies. Why LinkedIn lists the items in a different order beats me.

Note: Services is a new feature for people who are offering services in various categories. If you select it, you’ll get a drop-down that shows categories like: Consulting, Coaching & Mentoring, Marketing, Operations, Business Consulting. You can also select Add a Service and you’ll get a drop-down of a plethora of services like Financial Analysis, Accounting, Advertising….

Using Search on the App is not as easy to navigate as it is using the computer, but you can find almost all you need with Search.

Filter people by or All filters

This is a powerful feature within Search. If you select People as your search preference, you’ll see a symbol you’ve probably never seen before. It resembles three nob and tubing wires (boxed out on top left of screenshot above).

Not as powerful as the desktop version, it still allows you to narrow your search by: Connections degree, Connections of, Locations, Current company, Past company, School, Industry, Profile language, and Open to.

The computer version provides more features than the app, and Filter people by is way more friendly on your computer than your phone. There are a couple of more options to find people with the computer platform, which include Service categories, and Keywords.

3. Share a post

To start a post, you might have to look hard to find it. In image at the very top, the icon resembles a white cross in a grey box. Clicking on the icon gives you the option to Write a long post of about 1,200 characters but as I said above, writing it with the app can be difficult.

Other features that come with starting a post are: Add a photo, Take a video, Celebrate an occasion, Add a document, Share that you’re hiring, Find an expert, and Create a poll. The app separates itself from the computer with the Take a video feature. It’s not possible to do on the computer but easily done with the app.

Somewhat related to Start a post is a new feature that hasn’t rolled out for everyone. It’s called Cover Story and allows you to record a 30-second elevator pitch. At this writing I haven’t recorded my elevator pitch, but I’ve seen some very good ones.

The computer platform doesn’t allow you to take a video, rather you have to upload it to your hard drive. With your app, you can create a video straight from it.

However, the computer platform allows you to write and revise a Newsletter and create a LinkedIn Live video. It’s a bummer if you only have your phone and want to do any of the aforementioned.

4. Messaging

The most noticeable difference between the mobile app and the desktop for Messaging is that the app’s version is truncated (to left). Only by clicking on your connection’s message can you read the stream of conversation. 

On the desktop you can see the most recent messages you’ve had with a connection or someone with whom you’ve shared InMail. But this is expected, as the desktop has a larger surface.

Both the mobile app and the desktop allow you to search by Unread, My Connections, InMail, Archived, and Spam, albeit in a different order. (Are you getting the sense that the desktop platform is becoming more like the mobile app?)

With both mobile app and the desktop, you can respond to InMails by choosing some buttons, such as Interested, Maybe later, No thanks and other intuitive short responses. Obviously LinkedIn considers this lazy way of responding to be intuitive and clever. I will admit that that I’ve taken the shortcut.

One noteworthy difference is that the mobile app has a feature that suggests an opening verbiage for messages, such as, “Hi (name), I notice you’re also connected with (name).” This feature  is akin to LinkedIn’s default invite message. No thanks.

5. My Network

If you’re looking for the My Network icon, it’s migrated from the top to the bottom of the screen. Clicking on the icon brings you to a the ability to Manage my network, which shows your number of connections. It’s interesting that my number of connections is different from my computer (4,705) and the app (4,046). I wonder which is correct?

Other tidbits of information are: People you follow, #Hashtags you follow, Companies you follow, and other minor details. You can also check out how many Invitations and Sent invites that are pending.

Note: If you want to locate someone by occupation and other demographics, you can use All filters.

Also important to keep in mind is that LinkedIn will suggest people you know (to right). Don’t simply hit Connect, as the invite will be sent without giving you the opportunity to personalize it. Contrary to what many people believe, you can send a personal invite from the App. I’ve made the mistake of sending an invite sans personal invite. The secret, go to the recipient’s full profile on the App.

6. Notifications

This feature allows you to see what your connections have been doing:

  1. Who’s mentioned you in a post
  2. Liked your post, liked a post that mentions you
  3. Is starting a new position
  4. Commented on (someone’s ) post

The differences between this feature on the app and desktop are negligible and hardly worth mentioning. However, there is one major difference: the desktop seems to lag behind the mobile app. In other words, the streaming is slower on the desktop than the app.

7. Companies

Like the desktop, you have to use the Search to access your desired companies. The most important reason to use Companies is to locate people who work for your target companies, which is a bit more cumbersome with the mobile app than the desktop.

To do this you must type the company name into Search and choose People, and then use the Filter tool (boxed out on the image to the right). You can filter by:

  1. Connections (degree)
  2. Connections of
  3. Locations
  4. Current companies
  5. Past companies (not shown)
  6. Industries (not shown)
  7. Schools (not shown)

The only benefit the desktop version offers is the ability to search by Keyword. The other filters are superfluous. Such as Profile language and Nonprofit interests.

In my opinion, this is the most important feature LinkedIn provides, whether on the desktop or mobile app. This is where real online networking happens. In fact, I written an article on the Companies feature.

8. Jobs

You can search for jobs using Search just as easy as clicking on the icon. You avoid a step by using Search.

The Search feature allows you to find jobs, say in Accounting, and then narrowing them down to Location (allow your device to identify your location, if you like), and if you want to take it further, filter by:

  1. Most relevant
  2. Most recent
  3. Determine how many miles you are willing to travel
  4. Only show jobs with which you can apply Easy Apply
  5. Date posted
  6. Company
  7. Experience level
  8. Job type
  9. Industry
  10. Job function

When you’ve chosen a job to investigate, you’ll notice—because of the limited surface—the mobile app is not as robust as the desktop version. Some similarities are:

  1. Number of first degree connections
  2. Number of alumni
  3. Job description
  4. The person who posted the job
  5. Jobs people also viewed
  6. Easy Apply

When you open the LinkedIn app on your smart phone, you’ll see the power, albeit limited, it has to offer. You’ll also see that the desktop version closely resembles the mobile app. If I were to choose between the two, it would be a difficult choice. However, the prospect of opening up the laptop 10 times a day isn’t very appealing.

3 Ways to Apply for Jobs: Which is Best?

Common wisdom tells us that only using one job-search method isn’t wise. For example, only applying online or only networking. Using these methods alone will garner a poor result for your job search.

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

A poll I’m conducting—it’s four days old—reveals that a combination of applying online and networking is the best way to land a job. The results show that 14% believe only applying online is the best way to go, 19% feel only networking is the key, and 67% concur that using both methods is ideal.

Applying online only

Let’s look at the first scenario, where a job seeker only searches online for positions. Sites like Indeed.com, LinkedIn.com, CareerBuilder.com Monster.com, and the like entice the job seeker because the process is easy, albeit statistically unsuccessful.

Our job seeker discovers the wonder of creating a resume on Indeed using the job board’s template. In addition, he’s asked if there are certain skills he possess that should be on his Indeed resume. He can even take tests to determine his proficiency in certain areas of expertise.

Once this is accomplished he can select whether to make his resume public. He chooses to make it public and believes that his Indeed resume will be searched for by hiring authorities. This part of applying online is done.

Everyday he is notified of jobs that “meet his qualifications,” but often this is not the case. Approximately 95% of what he receives in his inbox are garbage; they are far from what he’s looking for. The ones that meet his qualifications are seen by thousands of other job seekers.

To be more proactive, our job seeker goes on the aforementioned sites, believing that the more online jobs he applies for, the better chance he’ll have of landing a job. The hiring authorities will be calling him for interviews; all he has to do is wait. Over the course of a year, he’ll apply for more than 200 jobs.

Networking only

Job-search pundits have shouted from the rooftops that networking is the best way to find a job, and they’re probably right. But to use it alone; how would this look? Here’s how it would look.

  1. Our job seeker identifies 10-15 companies for which he’d like to work.
  2. He researches those companies to see if they’re worth pursuing. The list is a live document, as some companies are performing poorly and have to be replaced by other companies.
  3. Then he reaches out to people at his desired companies with LinkedIn Inmail, or if he doesn’t have a premium account, he requests to connect. A good number of them, including recruiters, decide to connect with him.
  4. He DMs them multiple times over the course of five months. They, in turn, corresponds with him. He’s building relationships.
  5. When he feels like the relationships have nurtured, he reaches out to his connections and asks for a telephone conversation or even an in-person meeting.
  6. Slowly and methodically he builds foundations at his desired companies.
  7. Periodically he pings his bona fide connections asking if positions he is pursuing are developing in their companies. He can do this because their relationships are strong.
  8. And if he is really good, he’ll write proposals that address the companies’ pain points, which he knows about because he has had networking meetings.

Sound like a lot of work? Hell yes. Worth it? Hell yes. Our job seeker might not land a job doing this with eight of his 15 companies, but he’s developing relationships that can be life lasting; relationships he can leverage when time arises. Or, he could land a job at one of his 15 targeted companies by following this plan.

What people see as networking is often a different picture. They see attending large networking groups (via video platforms for now) where it seems that no one knows each other. This is probably what the people who voted in the poll for networking only imagine networking to be.

Consider networking as a living organism that nurtures in time or suddenly results in opportunities through superficial contacts. It’s important to have a strategy when networking, such as described above, but networking is more than slowly building relationships.

Applying online and networking

I’ll repeat that, “Networking is more than slowly building relationships.” I explain to my clients that networking happens in many different forms. Networking before and after applying online are two forms. Networking one’s way into a position without applying is also possible, usually with higher-level candidates.

Our job seeker discovers through applying online and networking that his job search becomes more successful. He doesn’t use the “spray and pray method.” Rather, he carefully selects the jobs he sees on the job boards—or hears about before they’re advertised—and writes resumes that are tailored to those jobs.

He identifies who the decision makers are and delivers his resume to them along with applying online. Knowing that the company has a strict process that requires online applications be sent through HR, he complies.

Perhaps the decision makers will read his tailored resume before receiving his applications, perhaps not. But at least his presence is felt. In one particular instance, a person from the hiring committee tells him that she’s received his resume, and instructs him to follow through with the process.

Our job seeker also contacts someone he knows in the company to tell her that he’s applied for the position. He asks her if she would put in a “good word” for him. She’s a stand-up person and agrees to meet his request. At this point he has all bases covered.

By using a combination of networking, applying online, and networking some more, our job seeker lands a position of his dreams. Does it always work this way? No, networking happens in different forms.

What some career-search professionals say

To answer the poll question–Which way do you lean when it comes to networking or applying online?—it’s well worth hearing from some people who are in the business of helping job seekers.

You’ve read the three scenarios of our job seeker, so it’s not by design that I include quotes that only support of the third option. To a person, no one who for the first and second options, wrote their opinion on this matter. Could this be that there is no other option than the third?

Hannah Morgan: I don’t think it is one vs the other. It is both. A better question to ask is do you network BEFORE a job opportunity is posted or AFTER. My answer would be both. However, when will the hiring manager have more time to have a conversation? BEFORE there’s an opportunity posted. So that’s why proactively targeting companies and people BEFORE a job is available is a recommended strategy.

Laura Smith-Proulx, Executive Resumes, CCMC, CPRW, NCOPE: Many of my executive clients work diligently at both of these #executivejobsearch tasks. It’s interesting that you posted this question, because when recruiting was a bit slower, networking paid off more quickly. Now that competition for top candidates is more fierce, I’ve seen postings for what were typically more elusive C-suite opportunities. My husband just landed a prime opportunity solely through networking – but that’s his forte. Well-networked candidates (those typically not lured by postings) are now telling me they’re intrigued by throwing their hat in the ring for an advertised job.

Virginia Franco: Aim to NOT make applying online your first point of entry and focus 90% of your time on outreach, networking, etc. IF/WHEN you see a job that seems like an ideal fit, however, then indeed apply and follow the steps you outlined.

Thomas POWNER ➜ CPRW ➜ CEIP ➜ CCMC ➜ NCOPE ➜ CDCC (He/Him): Combination is the best action. As a third-party recruiter, I typically won’t speak to a candidate for a job that has an online posting until they apply. That being said, networking in combination will most likely get your LinkedIn and resume reviewed quickest.

Adrienne Tom: I just shared a post this past weekend about my husband’s job search during the pandemic, which speaks to my answer to this poll. I believe in the power of BOTH online applications and networking. My husband only applied to 3 roles (over 2 months). He initially found all 3 roles online and applied online….BUT, he leveraged the power of networking and relationships to help his applications. In the one role he ultimately accepted, he established an internal champion that helped watch for his application, put in a good word for him, and provided him with key intel.

Maureen McCann, Executive Career Strategist 💎 (She/Her): Both. You can be in an active and passive job seeker simultaneously. One does not exclude the other. You can be actively working a lead on a job by networking with the CEO of the company, then out of the blue get a call-back from an application you submitted online through LinkedIn for a different job altogether.

Sonal Bahl: I advise my clients to do both. They (and I in the past) have had massive, and I mean, crazy, success with online applications. I know this isn’t what the ‘without applying online’ brigade preaches, but when one is in transition, it’s wise to avoid putting all eggs in one basket only.

Marti Konstant, MBA: Job Search Strategies are evolving. For mid-career job seekers, having some sort of connection and conversations into the organization can be augmented by applying online. Online only without the power of personal will make for a looong job search.

Jessica Sweet, CPCC, CEIP, LICSW 🇺🇦: It really has to be both. In addition, you need to work to catch the eye of prospective employers, through a great LinkedIn profile, and hopefully also a content strategy that showcases your thought leadership in your space.

Let Go Because of Stagnation? 3 Steps to Take in Your Job Search

You were let go from your job because of lack of performance. Your boss said you were uninspired, and she was correct. It was time to go. Now you’re wondering what the hell you’ll do. You had 15 years of productive program management, until you lost the fire in your gut three years ago.

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

You ran into stagnation. There was nowhere to go in the organization. You wanted a change. No, you needed a change.

Technical training was a component of your job, and you loved and did it well. You were a natural. You made technical content easy for a layman understand. You loved seeing the Ah Ha moment register on the faces of the people you trained, your colleagues and the company’s clients.

That was then, now it’s time to look for a new position.

The problem for you is that the training positions you see online are entry level. As well, they’re low-paying. If you want to focus purely on training and get paid well for it, you’ll have to pursue jobs for training coordinators and managers. This is a leap that makes you nervous but also excited.

Out of curiosity, you look up on LinkedIn the description of a technical training coordinator. The requirements are daunting at first but you know you can do it. One job description reads in part:

Participates in, and conducts technical training programs,” it begins. “Determines training objectives. Writes training programs, including outline, text, handouts, and tests, and designs laboratory exercises…” Sounds like a lot of work.

“...Administers written and practical exams and writes performance reports to evaluate trainees’ performance. Requires a bachelor’s degree in a related area…” Bachelor’s degree. This could be a problem; you don’t have one. You rose to the top of your field through job experience.

In your heart, you know this is what you want to do.

Here’s the good news: challenges are a good thing

Employees excel when they’re mentally stimulated. When they encounter new, interesting tasks, they rise to the occasion. Conversely, when employees are unchallenged and bored, they don’t perform well. Stagnation sets in when they’ve been at their job too long.

How many years is too long? This depends on an employee’s unvaried responsibilities, or if they no longer enjoy what they’re doing. Among your various tasks, you enjoyed training your colleagues and the company’s clients more than your other tasks and now realize training is what you want to pursue.

Although you have no experience in writing online manuals, administering practical exams, and the other administrative tasks, as the job ad describes, you have extensive experience training your colleagues and the company’s clients and were told you write well.

The biggest challenge is looking for work after eighteen years of working for the same company. Making a career change adds to the challenge. You’ll have to learn how to search for work the proper way.

Ask for Network Meetings

You must go into your career change with your eyes wide open. To do this you should talk with people in the training occupation. What are the major tasks you’ll perform? What do the people with whom you talk enjoy most about their job? What do they find to be a drag? These are all questions you must ask.

Read 10 Ways to Make Your Job-Search Networking Meetings Shine.

How will you find said people? The largest Rolodex in the world is LinkedIn. You can find technical trainers by simply typing “Technical Trainer” in the search field, but that won’t be very productive. Instead, determine which companies for which you want to work, and DM them with your InMails.

Note: your requests will most likely be granted if you include a reference in it.

When you ask for 15 minutes of their time, be sure to keep track of the time and tell them when it’s been 15 minutes. They’ll probably answer more of your questions as long as they are illuminating ones.

After talking with each person, you ask them if there are other people with whom you can talk. Some of the people who grant you networking meetings mention one or two other people with whom you can talk, others mention three people, others four. And so it goes.

These meetings are considered a success because the networking chain keeps growing and if there aren’t immediate results, don’t worry; eventually leads will turn into opportunities. This is action that happens behind the scenes. You’ll apply for positions online.

Write your job-search documentation

You begin writing your resume and LinkedIn profile highlighting the training experience you had as a program manager. Training was a portion of your duties but don’t disregard other elements in your position that were key, such as leadership, management, organization.

More specifically, you’ll make note of all the skills and experience you notice in the job ads. Put together a spreadsheet with the skills you pull from six or so job adds and write from top to bottom the skills that most prevalent. It’s not what you’ve done that counts; it’s what you can do.

Some of the skills you notice are: Learning Management Systems, Instructional Design, Curriculum Development, Technical Training, Learning Development, Workflow Management. There are more skills you notice, but make sure to include the most prevalent ones.

Your resume is matching about job ads at 50%, but don’t worry too much about this. The feeling of excitement is great, and although you don’t come in as strong as you’d like based on your keyword matches, you have spoken with many people who have heard your desire to switch careers.

Make sure your accomplishments are at the top of your resume, beginning in the Summary, the Skills area, and most importantly the Experience section. It’s no stretch, for example, to write about delivering technical material to a diverse audience:

Delivered highly technical information to hundreds of sales and marketing staff of varied abilities, providing a clear understanding of the material.”

Be prepared to answer interview questions

The interview question you’ll get 100% of the time is, “Why did you leave your last job?” Be ready with your answer, but don’t make it sound canned. Also, don’t begin your answer with, “That’s a great questions.” Interviewers hate this opener.

Simply state, “My position at ABC corporation was running its course. I was losing interest and it showed in my work. My boss and I agreed that it was time for a change. With the responsibility of this position, I’m sure I will excel.

How will you make the transition from program manager to training coordinator?” is another question you’ll get. Be sure to have an answer for this one and try to deliver a STAR story. Interviewers love stories because more skills come from them.

I’ve given this much thought,” you begin. “I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t think I could handle this opportunity. May I tell you a story about how I’ve coordinated multiple trainings that required not only delivering them, but pulling together the content?” The interviewers welcome your story.

There was a period of three weeks when we were rolling out multiple products and our clients needed training to understand the products. My task was to train our staff. Train the trainer if you will.

I had never written training manuals but knew if I didn’t, the other trainers would be lost, so that’s where I began.

It was challenging at first, but I enjoyed the act of researching our products and how to best describe them.

I led many sessions with our staff in which I encouraged them to present the material I created in front of each other.

In the end, they did very well. I saw excitement on their faces and heard enthusiasm in their voices.”

Now it’s time for you to ask questions. Don’t use canned questions you gleaned by reading articles on the Internet; rather ask questions about the position and the company. Make them thought-provoking. Show that you listened during the interview and ask question based on discussions.


After three rounds of talking with various employees at the company, including the VP of operations, you are asked to perform a 15-minute training on one of their products. You nail it and are offered the job. The salary is lower than you’d like, but this is work you will enjoy. Begone stagnation.

Sage Interviewing Advice from 5 Recruiters

Congratulations! You made it to the interview. Through your hard work—researching the position and company; networking with recruiters; writing a resume for human consumption, not purely focused on the ATS; and practicing answering the questions you predict will be asked—you’re ready.

There are some things you still need to consider, such as:

  • Preparing for video interviews
  • Understanding how to answer the questions that will be asked
  • Thinking of intelligent questions to ask the interviewers
  • Knowing how to answer the salary questions
  • Following up with your recruiter

All of this will be covered here. My suggestion to you is don’t skip a word. The recruiters who offer their advice are the real deal. They’ve taken time out of their busy schedule to offer you their advice and, most importantly, they want to help you succeed. One of them writes:

“As a recruiter, my success depends on my candidates succeeding. I provide advice on LinkedIn and other platforms for not just my candidates whom I work with personally, but candidates everywhere.” Tejal Wagadia, Sourcing Recruiter, Amazon

Preparing for video interviews

Ed Han Talent Acquisition Geek | Job-Hunt.org Contributor | JobSeeker Ally | I’m not active on LinkedIn: I’m hyperactive! | Wordsmith | Recruiter at Cenlar FSB | Ask me about IT opportunities in the 19067 and 08618 ZIP codes!

The key to performing well in practically everything is good preparation. Professional athletes practice for hours daily. Professional actors do exercises and rehearse lines for hours daily. So it is with interviews–but particularly with video interviews. And it begins from the moment you attempt to schedule your interview, and all the way through the process.

Some of what follows is just interview preparation best practices, but the items that are unique to video interviews will be called out in italics.

Scheduling

When the person with whom you are scheduling confirms your interview:

  • Do so in writing (email. SMS, etc.)
  • Always ask
  • How long should I budget?
  • With whom will I be speaking?
  • What technology will be used?
  • If they send a calendar invitation, scan the attendees, see if the interviewer(s) are also on the invitation list

Before the interview

These steps are essential in maximizing the likelihood of performing well in your interviews:

  • From the Scheduling step above, research your interviewer(s) online on LinkedIn and other forms of social media
  • Get plenty of rest the night before to the extent possible
  • Have a beverage handy for your interview: you will probably do a fair bit of talking in the interview, and pausing to take a sip can be a good way to stall for a few seconds and gather your thoughts when uncertain how to frame your response to an interviewer’s question
  • Again from the Scheduling step above, do a test call or two using the technology for your interview because unfamiliar technologies might behave unexpectedly, and throw you off during the interview
  • Most videoconferencing technologies have a chat feature: identify that feature and learn it, it is useful for troubleshooting any audio/video issues you may be experiencing
  • GoToMeeting when installed on a computing device periodically needs to update, so allow time for this to take place before your interview
  • Set the stage: identify where you will take the interview, and make sure the lighting is good, that you are not backlit or in shadow, that you have privacy and quiet, and make sure nothing problematic is visible in the background behind you–this is another good reason to do a test call before your video interview
  • Attire: select clothing that is not jarring against the background the interviewer(s) may see
  • Where possible use a Chromebook/laptop with an Ethernet cable: WiFi often offers lower bandwidth than an Ethernet cable connection, and using your phone could lead to your hand getting tired from being in the same position for an extended period of time

During the interview

Bear these things in mind during your interview:

  • In a panel interview, ensure that you are addressing each person, although the bulk of your attention should be on whoever is speaking
  • In the event of a technical issue, use the chat feature to help troubleshoot
  • Look at the camera, it is your interviewer(s): the reason for a video interview is to get a feel for the person behind the resume, and there is a great deal of non-verbal communication in any human interaction. It is easy to make the mistake of looking at the screen instead of the camera, but make a conscious effort to do better in this, it will help differentiate you from your competition

After the interview

It is generally considered good etiquette to send a thank you. Schools of thought differ on “the ideal medium” to do so: I have witnessed suggestions of a formal business letter, email, or text. What makes sense will be driven by the dynamic between you and the person who scheduled the interview. If in doubt, always favor the more formal over the less formal medium, whatever that is.

Summary

Above all, remember that a job interview is a business meeting between parties wanting to determine if they want to do business, and if so, how. The fact that this conversation is taking place over video is irrelevant.

It just means that there are logistical considerations that you should recognize and address to ensure optimal performance.

Understanding how to answer the questions that will be asked

Dan Roth Recruit for Amazon | Work for my Candidates | Professional Speaker

As recruiters a recruiter, I get asked all the time, “What is the hardest interview question you have ever heard?” I always pause, knowing I am not going to give them the answer they are expecting to hear.

Instead of a specific question, my response is always, “It’s not the question that is hard. The hard part is making sure you are answering the question how the interviewer wants you to.” Roughly 90% of the time I get a quizzical look so I explain.

Amazon and many other companies want applicants to use the STAR method.

Situation

Task

Actions

Result/s

This format allows applicants to have a clear structure. First you explain the situation, providing whatever background information is needed that gives context. Next what was the task? The task could conceivably be the problem you are looking to solve.

Actions are the next component. Within the actions, what measures did you take to resolve the situation? How did you arrive at this decision? Did you research prior? Did you seek out varying opinions? Did you have to pick between multiple options? We really want to know in the actions not only what you did, but the why behind it.

Finally, the result/s. Was it a positive outcome? Were there data points showing the improvement you were able to make? Was the client happy? Were your actions ones that you could replicate in the future with similar results?

This may sound standard, even simple.

The trouble for most comes in two parts.

The first is that while the structure is easy to follow, many job seekers do not consider the context of the question. Amazon has 16 leadership principles. The interviewer may be hinting to you that they want to hear an example of customer obsession.

But due to nerves or any number of factors, the answer provided is either based on prepared answers that have been practiced time and time again and is not catered to the question being asked.

Or so much time is spent on one area of STAR that it comes across as overly verbose and potentially gives the wrong impression of how the candidate communicates on the job.

The other big miss can be data points. Many high-tech companies want you to back up your claims with some sort of tangible evidence. If you created an application that raised sales for your company 30% we want to know that.

But, data points are often seen as numeric. If your customer obsession led your client to award your company more business, that is another metric that can be used. It is all relative on the job and what you are doing.

So how do tough interview questions become easy? Well, they don’t…but they can become easier. Make sure you are actively listening to the interviewer, research the company beforehand and look at the job description and job tasks as a guide you can base your answers off of.

The thing is, we can’t suddenly become telepathic and know what every interviewer is looking for. What we can do is do everything in our power to make sure that you are giving yourself the best chance to succeed.

Thinking of intelligent questions to ask the interviewers

Kelli Hrivnak Recruiter partnering with companies to hire Digital Marketing & Technology Talent | Dream Team Builder 🏆 Career Growth Catalyst

“Do you have any questions for me?”

You reached the end of the interview–Don’t blow it now. Your answer should never be “No, I’m good on my end.”

I’ll relate it to a first date. If your date wasn’t reciprocating questions back to you, what would your impression be of his/her interest level? Here’s what I would think: They just aren’t that into you.  

Even if the interviewer did a bang-up job of providing an overview of the job and company, they are testing to see if you did your research and prepared for the interview. 

This process is mutual–employer and candidate should be qualifying each other to vet the fit. The goal of all interview processes is to gather and learn as much information as you can to assess if you will succeed in the company.

If you’re still trying to figure out the culture, you have to go deeper and ask more specific questions than the blanket “Tell me about your company culture?” Here is a sampling of what you can ask instead to reveal the ethos of the organization.

History:

Is this a replacement or growth hire?  

What challenges have prior hires had in this position?

What traits and behaviors made hires in this position successful?

Management style:

What happens when an employee fails?

How do you address under-performance issues with employees?

How do you set and track goals for the team AND individuals? Is goal-setting a collaborative effort?

Leadership:

How are leadership decisions made and communicated?

What is your or company’s approach to performance reviews?

Is there anything you can disclose regarding company growth plans for this year (product roll-outs, acquisitions, 

Communication:

How often do you hold stand-ups or meetings to communicate news/information with the entire team? How often for one-on-ones?  

How often and how do you provide feedback? Or are you generally “hands-off”?

How do employees give and receive feedback?

How do you stay in contact with the team?

How are you keeping employees connected during these times?

How (or when) do the other departments collaborate?

DEI

What are you doing to promote a diverse/inclusive workforce?

What has been the most difficult part of implementing a DEI program?

Does the company encourage and support employee resource groups?

What has the company implemented to eliminate bias in the hiring process?

Learning and Development

Are there opportunities for upskilling and personal development?

What does the onboarding process look like? Are there mentors or “buddies” on staff available after onboarding? 

Would I have a chance to represent the company at trade conferences?

Where have successful prior hires in this position been promoted to?

Work/Life Balance:

What are leadership’s expectations for work hours?

Should I be expected to be available for emails on nights/weekends?

Before you wrap-up,

  1.  “Given what you have learned so far, do you have any concerns about my skills or experience that would be problematic for success in this position?”

Yes, the candidate does take the risk of having the interviewer call out a real issue. However, the candidate is taking a proactive approach and allowing the opportunity for the interviewer to bring up any reservations about the fit–given the interviewer takes this chance to be honest too. It’s your final chance to prove you are the best candidate.

  1. What are the next steps in the hiring process? When would it be appropriate for me to follow-up?

You are setting the stage for managing expectations of the hiring process.

Knowing how to answer the salary questions

Teegan Bartos, CCMC, CCM Helping Ambitious Professionals Gain Career Clarity, Get Hired Quickly & Have Their Income Match Their Impact ✷ Career Coach & Resume Writer ➟ 𝘋𝘔 𝘮𝘦 𝘢𝘣𝘰𝘶𝘵 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘗𝘦𝘳𝘧𝘦𝘤𝘵 𝘍𝘐𝘛 𝘈𝘤𝘤𝘦𝘭𝘦𝘳𝘢𝘵𝘰𝘳

The most important thing I can share with you about salary negotiations is it starts before you ever speak to someone. A company is going to have a pay range in mind and have preconceived notions about your worth based on your location, education, previous titles, and market conditions – none of which is within your control.

That’s probably why Glassdoor found that 59% of American employees accepted their offer without ever negotiating. And what’s worse, is only 1 in 10 of U.S. employees reported earning more than their former job.

But the great news is, companies also take into consideration how you articulate your value across your LinkedIn profile, resume, and throughout the interview process – all of which is within your control.

Let’s dive right in starting with my top three mistakes to avoid:

1.      Discuss salary BEFORE a formal offer is given – know your worth and preferences.

2.      Don’t accept an offer ON THE SPOT – ask for 24-48 hours to review.

3.      DON’T accept the first offer without countering.

Where to research your market value:

Salary.com, Payscale.com, ONetOnline.org, job postings in states that require pay range transparency like Colorado and Connecticut, and talking to people with access to that information via informational interviews.

How to begin salary talks during the interview process:

In most states, it is illegal to ask what your current salary is, so more often than not, you will be asked what your compensation expectations are. Here are four different approaches to answer this:

  1. Based on my understanding of the role, I would expect to be near $X.
  2. I want to learn more about this role to give an exact figure, but I need to be within X to Y range.
  3. All in I would want to be near X and Y with my guaranteed cash near Z. How does the company factor equity and bonus?
  4. Before I can answer that I would need to learn more about the position. What is the salary range for this role?

If you are an executive or your role requires you to negotiate, I would avoid option number 4. My go-to answer during early stages is a well-researched option number 2 for mid-level professionals and option number 3 for executives.

5 steps to negotiating your offer via email after reviewing for 24-48 hours:

  1. Gratitude: Thank you.
  2. Optimism: I am excited to join the team!
  3. Evidence & Range: The offer is below what I was expecting. I believe this position should be between X and Y.
  4. Value Proof: I’ve been able to A (lead a global IT transformation resulting in $52.3M in cost avoidance and 237% in increased productivity through automation initiatives) and B (another relevant value add example) and know I would be an asset to the organization. 
  5. Ask: Is there flexibility here?

Negotiating is a complicated process to cover in 500 words, but you’ve now got a starting point that you can customize to fit your needs.

Following up with your recruiter

Tejal Wagadia Demystifying recruiting/hiring one post at a time | Nerd at heart | Samwise Gamgee to your Frodo Baggins in recruiting | Views are my own| Maxed out on my connections, please hit follow!

Recruiters and Talent Acquisition folks shouldn’t be unapproachable either before or after or anytime during the process!

We are neither Ents or Golum from LOTR, but I do understand why that’s the perception. 

Working with a recruiter should be easy and it’s as much on you as a job seeker as it’s on the recruiter!

Questions that I often get as a recruiter from job seekers are about how often and what to say. 

Let’s start with How Often:

Recruiters are just like you and can forget sometimes. It’s okay to reach out to us and come back up in our headspace. 

The cadence should be every 3-5 days depending on your bandwidth. 

Your recruiter should have told you a timeline that you should hear back by! If they don’t, you can absolutely ask during the first call about it. 

Script:

“Thank you for all this information. Could you go over the interview timeline and when I should expect to hear back?” 

If this wasn’t communicated with you during your first call and you’ve already interviewed with an organization and haven’t heard back, you want to start 3 business days post your last interview or communication! 

If you have the phone number, you should definitely call. If you only have an email, that works too. Here are the scripts you can use

Phone voicemail:

“Hi (Recruiter Name), This is (Your Name). I interviewed with (Team or Person) on (date). I am following up to see if you had any updates for me. Please give me a call back when you get a moment, my phone number is (xxx-xxx-xxxx).”

If they pick up, you can use the first part of the voicemail message to begin the conversation.

Email script:

“Hi (Recruiter Name),

I hope you’re doing well. I interviewed with (Team or Person) on (date). I am following up to see if you had any updates for me. I enjoyed my conversation with (Team or Person) and would love to move forward in the process. 

Please let me know if you have heard anything back yet or when I should expect to hear back.

Sincerely,

YOUR NAME.”

I promise you as a recruiter, you aren’t bothering us. Sometimes I have someone on my to-do list to get back to but before I know it it’s past 6 and I have to end my work day! It happens! I always push the candidate over to the next day’s to-do list but it’s not a fool proof system. 

Remember this is your job search! You have control, take ownership of this control.

________________________________________________

Want to know how to prepare for interviews, read prequel to this article.

The Art of Commenting on LinkedIn Posts: 4 Rules to Follow

You have valuable content to share—be it long posts, articles, videos, or audios—but it’s not being seen and appreciated by your audience. You conclude that your efforts are being wasted. Your efforts are being wasted if all you’re doing is flooding your connections’ feeds with your content.

Photo by Cristian Dina on Pexels.com

One viable form of content not listed in the paragraph above is comments written in response to other LinkedIn members’ posts. While you might be posting like a bandit, you’re losing half the battle if you’re not commenting on what other’s post.

First of all, what not to do

As mentioned above, don’t flood the platform with your content. This is intrusive and, quite honestly, comes across as desperate for attention. I was asked by Orlando Hanyes during an interview on Career Talks how often a person should share content on LinkedIn.

I thought for a moment and responded with, “Enough to not come across as obnoxious.” I continued to say that what’s more important is commenting on the content that members in your network post, because when it comes down to it, you’re communicating with the LinkedIn community.

You’ve read and heard it said that simply reacting to what others post is not enough, and it’s not. I’m guilty of doing this on occasion, but it’s usually because I’ve received the same treatment from the people who are quick to hit “like” and move on to other posts. I need to be better than those who simply react.

For job seekers, avoid simply reacting to what others on LinkedIn post. Follow the the key elements of commenting mentioned below. You’ll find it to be hard work, but it’s essential to being noticed on LinkedIn.

How to properly comment

If you’re someone who needs to know the quantified length of words for a comment, I won’t provide it. The reason is because a one-word comment might be as effective as a 200-word comment. But this is very rarely the case. It’s been stated that a five-word comment is the minimum.

What’s most important is the value of your comments. One thing I advise my clients to do is read the post or article, listen to the podcast, or watch the whole video before commenting on them. The person who produced the content probably put a lot of effort into it and would like to know it wasn’t all in vein.

There’s nothing more annoying than someone writing, “Great post” and leaving it at that. This is a great opportunity to continue the conversation started by the author. Also consider ending your comments with a question. I’ve seen a post take on a life of its own because of the comments it generated.

Let me give you an example, in its entirety, of a comment that shows effort on the commenter’s part. My valued connection, Wendy Schoen, wrote the following 200-word comment to one of my articles:

Bob McIntosh This is, by far, the most complete and well thought out set of interview advice, including video interview advice, I have ever seen in my 30 years of recruiting. I will be sure that all of my candidates see it from this point forward...

I would like to add an additional point to it however. Please remember that an interview is a two way conversation and that you want to make sure that at the conclusion of the interview the interviewers leave knowing all of the things about you that you wanted them to know.

I suggest that you choose the 3-5 most important things and make sure that you work those things into an answer you give somewhere during the interview. If, however, you get to the end and there is one point you have yet to bring up, when the interviewer asks if you have any questions, you ask a question that starts a conversation that allow you to bring up your last point!”

Note: did you notice that Wendy tagged me? By doing this, I saw in my Notifications that she commented on my article. Make sure when you comment on someone’s content that you give them a heads-up. They’ll appreciate this.

Reciprocation is key to success

It might seem counterintuitive but in order to receive, you need to give. This is the essence of networking. It’s also good manners.

Here’s how it works: in the course of your search for content to consume, you happen upon three posts, two articles, and one video that are written by your connections. For each one, you write a substantial comment of anywhere between 20 to 30 words (again, an arbitrary number).

The LinkedIn members who produced the content and see your comments will naturally feel they should return the favor whenever you produce content. I explained to Orlando Haynes that this is the natural flow of communicating on LinkedIn.

Comment within reason. Of course you can’t comment on everyone’s posts. That would require you to spend the majority of your day on LinkedIn. I have two rules when it comes to reciprocation.

  • Put a healthy limit on how much commenting you’ll do. Another one of my valued connections, Karen Tisdell, uses a 9:1 ration. In other words, she attempts to write nine comments to every post she produces. Karen also states that you can “suck the air” out of previous content by posting too often.
  • Write more in your comments than your connections do. I mentioned above that if someone only reacts to what I produce, I’ll do the same; but this is only if it’s a recurring theme.

Helping the poster helps you

There’s power in alignment with LinkedIn members who have sway; dare I say, are influencers. While this doesn’t help you immediately, eventually you will become known by the LinkedIn community.

Job seekers should get in the habit of commenting on as many posts they can. Their face and tagline will appear more often, especially when they comment on posts written by people who have a large following. (Don’t take this to mean that you stalk members with a large following.)

If you want people to engage with your posts, you need to engage with them first. Remember reciprocation? I asked Kevin Turner, whom I consider to be extremely knowledgeable in all things LinkedIn, what he considers to be the benefits of commenting on LinkedIn:

“Commenting is definitely part of the overall platform math. Value add commenting (not drive-bys) on others’ posts is showing engagement within the community and [In] values that as part of your predictive [nature].

If the Author is highly followed and respected, one of the biggest values for a commenter is alignment, basically riding their coat tails. If the Author, as described above, is outside of your 1st or 2nd level connections the biggest benefit may be reach. The other biggest value is in building a support reputation and perhaps some return reciprocity.

Is Commenting as valued by [In] as Posting and Nurturing that conversation, absolutely not. I do believe many Creators push it because in its own sense, it is self serving. The more the Author convinces others that commenting is a big deal, the better their posts do.


Although LinkedIn doesn’t count your comments in their algorithm (a four-step process including: creating content, user flagging, universal filtering, and finally human editing, any content that passes with flying colors will reach your feed), it reasons that the more you comment on “quality posts,” the more you’ll be noticed by top contributors.

Another valued connection of mine, Erica Reckamp, made it her mission to comment on as many posts as she could. I reached out to her one day and asked when she would start posting her own content, because what she wrote in form of comments was truly outstanding. Her response was something akin to, “In good time.” Now she is posting on a regular basis.