7 Major Reasons Why You’re Not Landing a Job and What to Do about It

You’re unemployed and wondering why you’re not landing a job as fast as you’d like. You’re hearing there are plenty of jobs out there and wondering why you haven’t been contacted by employers. After all, you’re a great fit for all the jobs you’ve applied for.

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We’re in the midst of the Great Resignation and employers are working with a skeleton crew. Yet, they aren’t hiring candidates fast enough. What gives? Here’s the issue: they’re scared. More accurately, they’re afraid of hiring the wrong candidate and then having to do it all over again.

It costs employers a significant amount of money to replace an employee. SHRM estimates it can cost 50%-60% of an employee’s annual salary to bring someone onboard which can include recruiting, interview, training, and other administrative costs.

So employers are taking their sweet time to find the perfect, it seems, candidates. Glassdoor.com puts the hiring process at 10-53 days, but this doesn’t factor the time to fill (putting employees in their seats) which can take weeks.

Knowing this probably doesn’t make you feel better about being unemployed. However, you can take solace in knowing you’re not alone. “But the unemployment rate is low. They say there are jobs out there.” you protest.

True, the unemployment rate is hovering around 4% and there are jobs out there, but it’s obvious that employers need your help with speeding up the process. To help employers make their decision to hire you easier, you need to understand what you might be doing wrong and make adjustments to correct your mistakes.

Your job search lacks focus

If you’re saying to yourself and others that you’ll take any job, this is the root cause of your problem. Without direction, you are spinning your wheels, spreading yourself too wide.

What’s more, employers can detect job seekers who lack focus if they’re applying for multiple jobs in their company.

What to do about it: Stop applying for jobs for one day to determine exactly what you want to do. Create a spreadsheet of two or three jobs you’d consider taking. Also make a list of your strongest job-related and transferable skills. Lastly, make a list of your values that employers must meet.

Now type in the search field of the job board/s you use five of your most pertinent skills. Make note of the job titles that pop up and determine which ones are appropriate for you. It’s not out of the realm of possibility that you were a compliance officer and one of the job titles that comes up is business operator.

When you engage with people during informational meetings or other networking events, mention your five greatest areas of expertise. This will help people to better understand what you can do going forward, instead of pigeonholing you into one particular job.

You might benefit from creating a Professional Networking Document for networking.

Your job search is one-sided

You’re using job boards 100% of the time. This is a recipe for a very long job search. Some estimates put this method of looking for work as low as 3% success if used alone. I’ve heard and read accounts of job seekers who’ve submitted 600 applications with a few or no interviews as a result.

On the flip side is using networking alone as a job-search method. Career coaches will swear by networking—I’m one of them—but they don’t expect you to abandon applying online. That would be ludicrous.

What to do about it: It’s no secret that one should employ various methods to search for work. Some people even put a percentage on each method. I’m guilty of having done this.

However, I’ve learned that everyone’s job search is different based on their occupation and industry. A salesperson might find more success putting more emphasis on networking, whereas a software designer might benefit from putting more emphasis on connecting with recruiters.

This said, determine which plan of attack is best for you. Some methods to consider are:

  • Networking with other job seekers, professional associations, in the community, at your religious affiliations, friends, relatives, neighbors, basically everyone.
  • Connecting with recruiters in your industry.
  • Networking on social media, such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
  • Joining a buddy group.
  • Cruising the job boards including industry specific ones.

I’m also of the opinion that you shouldn’t spread yourself too thin. Like deciding what you want to do, you should decide what methods work best for you. For example, someone in my industry (nonprofit) would benefit in order: networking in person and online, and utilizing industry specific job boards.

Your resume is not written for human consumption

As of late, there has been a great deal of discussion surrounding applicant tracking systems (ATS’) and what they’re capable of doing. The misconception is that all ATS’ will automatically eliminate resumes based on lack of keywords. Thus, job seekers are writing resumes to “beat” the ATS’.

What to do about it: Hannah Morgan asked for my opinion on this matter in her 22 Job Search Trends and Predictions for 2022. Here’s how I answered:

Hiring Authorities are making it clear that applicant tracking systems (ATS’) is mostly a vessel where resumes are stored. Yes, some ATS’ can parse resumes for keywords and reject them. Yes, some ATS’ have “knockout” questions. And yes, some ATS’ can rank resumes.

In 2022 Job candidates will heed the words of hiring authorities and write resumes that speak to the needs of the employer if they want to succeed in getting their resumes into the hands of hiring authorities, not to “beat” the ATS‘.

For candidates to earn a chance to be interviewed, their resumes must accomplish the following:

  1. Be tailored to each job. This is huge if candidates want their resumes to demonstrate they have the qualifications for the job at hand.
  2. Demonstrate value. Instead of writing: “Led a team of software engineers to complete 4 projects.” Write: “Saved the company $493,020 in projected salary by championing a team of 6 software engineers to complete 4 projects in 2020. The projected number of projects was 3.”
  3. Only show 10-15 years of work history. The main reason for doing this is for showing relevant experience. The second reason is to avoid any possibility of age discrimination.
  4. Be easy to read. No paragraphs longer than 3 lines. No bullet point statements longer than 2 lines.

The labor market offers job candidates great potential but only if their resumes are written with the employer in mind. Worry less about the ATS and more about speaking to the employer’s needs.

You’re not networking

I mentioned above how networking should be part of your job-search process. In fact, I listed it at the top of of ways to search for your next job. You’re most likely stalled in your job search if networking is not part of your menu. It doesn’t have to be 100% of your job search, but it should be a good chunk of it.

What to do about it: Remember that there are different ways to network. If attending large networking groups via Zoom is not your thing, try joining smaller groups. However, the principles are the same. You must a willing participant and offer help to others in the group.

One example that immediately comes to mind is one participant of my job club (another networking venue) who was contacted by a recruiter about a position for which she wasn’t qualified. She turned around and shared it with the group. This is the essence of networking.

There is more than one way to network. What comes to mind for most job seekers is initiating contact with other job seekers and nurturing a relationship until a game-winning interview occurs.

This is great, but what about contacting recruiters on LinkedIn, handing your resume to a neighbor who delivers it to the hiring manager of a company for which you’d like to work, or following up with employees in the company after applying online to initiate further contact with the hiring manager?

Lastly, take your job search into your own hands. Develop a company target list of 15-30 companies. Research said companies and then send an approach letter to each company asking for an informational meeting. If your ROI is six meetings, you are closer to your next job.

Bonus: Sarah Johnston talks about making lists, including a list of companies, in her LinkedIn Learning course called Find a Job in the Hidden Job Market.

You’re not prepared for interviews

I’m of the opinion that most job applicants fail in interviews because they don’t conduct research. If you’re not researching the position, company, and even the interviewers; you will most likely fail in the interview.

Another important component of interview success is practice answering question which, again, I see job seekers failing to do. They go into the interview thinking they can “wing” it. Don’t be that person.

What to do about it: I won’t harp on researching the aforementioned topics other than to say that this should be your first act for each position. Not only will it help you prepare for interviews, it will help you write a focused resume. Don’t neglect this important part of your job search.

You’ve dutifully researched the position for a project manager. Now it’s time to practice answering questions you predict will be asked in an interview. Follow these steps:

  1. Write at least 10 anticipated questions based on your research. For example, you read in the job ad that written and oral communication is a strong requirement.
  2. For this question, write, “Tell us about a time when your written communication was integral to the success of a major project.”
  3. Write the answer to this question. This might seem like hard work, but if you want to blow the interviewers away you’ll do this hard work.
  4. Practice answering questions like this in front of a mirror or with a willing networking partner. If you really want to take practicing questions to the next level, have your partner record the practice session on Zoom.

In addition to conducting research and practice answering the questions you predict will be asked, leverage your network to gather valuable information in terms of the position and company. Try to discover the pain points of the employer. Use the information you gain through networking in the interviews.

Read this article on proper networking techniques, 6 Tips for a Successful (Video) Interview

You’re not adapting to interviewing technology

According to Monster.com 40% of interviewing is conducted via smart phones. Gen Zs prefer this mode of interviewing because it’s easier for them; they can interview candidates anywhere and at anytime. This is one example of how interviewing has changed over time.

Even before the pandemic, interviews were conducted via video platforms such as Zoom, Skype, Teams, Facetime, and others. Personality and analytical assessments were the norm for large employers who want to hurry the process.

What to do about it: Embrace technology if you haven’t already. We won’t be returning to the “old fashion” method of in-person interviewing primarily, especially during the ongoing pandemic. You must accept this fact and take measures to correct your old ways.

Your first assignment is to create an area for interaction via video platforms. I’ll attest that proper lighting is huge in your presentation. A dark area hurts your first impression, as does sunlight washing out your face.

Poor Internet connectivity is frustrating for interviewers when they have to wait for you to connect. To make eye contact, don’t look into the interviewers’ eyes, look at the camera. These are just a few must dos for proper presentation.

Part of adapting to change in the interview process is accepting that employers are receiving hundreds of applicants for each job. Therefore, they need a way to cut out the chaff. Their solution is employing personality and analytical assessments that, to you, is a huge waste of time.

It might well be a waste of time. It certainly doesn’t wave in the best candidates. Understanding this is part of the process will help you in your job search, just as accepting the idea that ATS’ are here to stay.

Read about 7 Tools Employers are Using to Hire Job Candidates.

You’re not following up

Following up with the interviewers completes the interview process and demonstrates excellent customer awareness. If you think this part of the journey doesn’t matter, you’re mistaken. As many as 75% of employers take note of candidates who don’t follow up, and as many as 20% base their hiring decision based on follow up messages.

What to do about it: There are two ways you can follow up, with email or via snail mail. The former is preferred more by employers and job candidates. It’s immediate and allows you to include more in your note. One might argue that thank-you notes show your age.

When you follow up is key. Generally speaking, you don’t want to wait longer than 24 hours. If an interview takes place on a Friday, following up on Monday is acceptable.

The third consideration is with whom to follow up. The answer is simple; everyone who interviewed you receives a thank-you note. And each note is personalized. Don’t send the same email to each interviewer and don’t send one note to the lead interviewer, asking her to thank the other interviewers.

Lastly are the elements of your thank-you note:

1. Show your gratitude. Obviously you’re going to thank the interviewers for the time they took to interview you; after all, they’re busy folks and probably don’t enjoy interviewing people.

2. Reiterate you’re the right person for the job. This is the second most obvious statement you’ll make in your follow-up notes. Mention how you have the required skills and experience and, very importantly, you have the relevant accomplishments.

3. Interesting points made at the interview. Show you were paying attention at the interview. Each person with whom you spoke mentioned something of interest, or asked a pertinent question. Impress them with your listening skills by revisiting those interesting points.

4. Do some damage control: How many candidates wish they could have elaborated on a question, or totally blew it with a weak answer? Now’s your chance to correct your answer.

5. Suggest a solution to a problem: Prior to the interview you were unaware of a problem the company is facing. Now you know about the problem. If you have a solution to this problem, mention it in your follow-up or a more extensive proposal.


To succeed in 2022 you must shuck off the bad habits you’ve developed because of lack of job search or simply because you haven’t considered better ways to look for work. Do better in gaining focus, researching, writing resumes for human consumption, networking, preparing for interviews, adapting to technology, and following up.

4 Areas Where Customer Awareness in the Job Search is Key: Part 2 of 2 Articles

The other day I was searching in our local grocery store for Sriracha Chili Sauce which my wife needed to make Thai Noodle Salad with Peanut Sauce. She had told me it was in the third aisle with the other sauces, but I couldn’t find it.

So, I asked the nearest associate where this elusive ingredient was. To my surprise, the associate told me it was in the third isle with the other sauces. I swear I looked everywhere. When I looked at him puzzled, he said, “Come on, I’ll take you to it.”

And sure enough it was in the third aisle where the other sauces were. Did I leave the store thinking, “Bob was being Bob,” that the Sriracha Chili Sauce was hiding from me? No. I left the grocery store thinking how the store associate had demonstrated great customer awareness.

Like the store associate, job seekers must demonstrate great customer awareness in their search. In the previous article, I pointed out how employers should show customer awareness. Now I’m going to address four areas where job seekers must show customer awareness:

  1. Research the position and company
  2. Write a resume that speaks to the employer, not the ATS
  3. Perform well in the interview
  4. Follow up respectfully

Research the position and company, at least

How does this demonstrate great customer awareness? First of all, the employer is a customer. And not doing your research is akin to the store associate not knowing where the Sriracha Chili Sauce was. You will not only hurt your chances of landing the job, you will also offend the employer.

Have you ever interviewed someone, and has that someone shown up without being prepared? I bet it was embarrassing for the job candidate. And I bet you were squirming in your seat. So don’t be that person who arrives unprepared and makes interviewers squirm in their seat.

Start researching the position by carefully dissecting the job ad. List all the important requirements in a column and next to them write how you can meet the requirements. Hint: the important requirements are listed in the job ad under Basic Qualifications or Major Qualifications. Also take note of the Preferred Qualifications.

Sarah Johnston, a career coach and former recruiter, suggests:

“Read between the lines to better understand the culture, reporting structure, and the actual job requirements. Consider that every bullet point in the job requirement section could be turned into an interview question.”

When you research the company, don’t rely solely on its website. The content you’ll find there is marketing material and won’t tell the whole story. Dig deeper if the company is public by reading press releases and annual reports. This will give you a better ideal of the company’s pain points.

Go one step further and try to ask people who work for the company if they can give you more info. Knowing someone in the company will be of great help in gathering information about the position—some of the hidden requirements—and the company culture and some issues it might be facing.

Write a resume that speaks to the employer, not the ATS

There’s been a lot of scuttlebutt as to what the applicant tracking system (ATS) is. Some claim it’s a system that selects resumes for hiring authorities to read based on keywords and, therefore, you must write resumes to “beat” the ATS.

Others claim it’s merely a system that stores resumes like a file cabinet where hiring authorities can pluck them based on keywords they enter for particular jobs. For the sake of argument, let’s agree that both scenarios are possible. Let’s also say for the sake of argument that your resume must be read by human eyes.

Teegan Bartos, a career coach and former recruiter, sums it up nicely:

“At the end of the day a human codes an ATS, a human enables various features of an ATS, a human sets up the knock-out questions the ATS asks, a human being chooses to read or not read each application, a human is conducting the keyword boolean search in their ATS database, and it’s the human being that clicks the button to send the rejection notices out.”

Will it serve as excellent customer awareness if job seekers write their resumes to satisfy the ATS the company’s using, while disregarding the integrity of their candidacy? Of course not. The resume must be created to speak to the needs of the employer. It must shout, “I know your needs, and I can solve them.”

Among the many attributes of a winning resume are strong relevant accomplishment statements. The keyword here is “relevant.” When you can show accomplishments that mean something to the employer, you’re speaking their language and indicating that you can repeat them in the future.

Perform well in the interview

The ultimate sign of strong customer awareness is pulling it all together in the interview. You’ve conducted research and submitted a resume that speaks to the employer’s needs. Now you must speak to the traits that make you the best candidate.

These are traits that not only show them you can do the job—those listed on your resume—but also speak to your outstanding character. Remember to speak to some pain points you noticed in the job ad. One of them might allude to being resilient.

Lisa Rangel, an executive resume writer and former recruiter sums it up nicely:

“One trait is to be prepared to demonstrate is resiliency. Have stories prepared on how you pivoted to succeed in an unexpected situation or business change. Use mishaps that could naturally occur in the interview as an opportunity to show how resilient and inventive on your feet you are. I firmly believe how someone handles a mishap on an interview tells me more about their resiliency than anything they could prepare for.”

This is a great example of how to handle the tough questions thrown at you during an interview. Demonstrating great customer awareness doesn’t only mean being able to answer questions that call for positive results. One question my clients get is, “Tell me about a time you made a mistake, and what did you learn from it?”

Let’s get back to research. Sarah Johnston states above that being able to read between the lines is a key component of predicting which types of questions might be asked. She gives this example:

“Let’s say that the job description reads: ‘Identify, initiate, and drive process improvement solutions that will ultimately provide operating efficiencies and synergies within the supply chain, resulting in cost reduction and increasing service level to customers.’

“This could be turned into a behavioral question in the interview: ‘Tell me about a time that you identified and drove a large process improvement solution in a previous role that led to increased operating efficiency. Tell me about the solution and the results of the implementation.'”

Lastly, keep in mind that first impressions do matter. I mention this because all too often I hear from my clients that they felt they did poorly because they talked too much, or they failed to make eye contact, or they weren’t dressed appropriately. Details like these matter; they demonstrate poor customer awareness.

Because interviews are often conducted via Zoom and other video platforms, you need to take into account the following details: proper lighting, what’s in your background, reducing noise and distractions, and how you’re dressed. All of these details are part of demonstrating excellent customer awareness.

Follow up respectfully

Following up with the interviewers completes the interview process and demonstrates excellent customer awareness. If you think this part of the journey doesn’t matter, you’re mistaken. As many as 75% of employers take note of candidates who don’t follow up, and as many as 20% base their hiring decision based on follow up messages.

There are four considerations when following up: how you follow up, when you follow up, with whom you follow up, and what do you include in your follow-up notes.

There are two ways you can follow up, with email or via snail mail. The former is preferred more by employers and job candidates. It’s immediate and allows you to include more in your note. One might argue that thank-you notes show your age.

When you follow up is key. Generally speaking, you don’t want to wait longer than 24 hours. If an interview takes place on a Friday, following up on Monday is acceptable.

The third consideration is with whom to follow up. The answer is simple; everyone who interviewed you receives a thank-you note. And each note is personalized. Don’t send the same email to each interviewer and don’t send one note to the lead interviewer, asking her to thank the other interviewers.

Lastly are the elements of your thank-you note:

1. Show your gratitude. Obviously you’re going to thank the interviewers for the time they took to interview you; after all, they’re busy folks and probably don’t enjoy interviewing people.

2. Reiterate you’re the right person for the job. This is the second most obvious statement you’ll make in your follow-up notes. Mention how you have the required skills and experience and, very importantly, you have the relevant accomplishments.

3. Interesting points made at the interview. Show you were paying attention at the interview. Each person with whom you spoke mentioned something of interest, or asked a pertinent question. Impress them with your listening skills by revisiting those interesting points.

4. Do some damage control: How many candidates wish they could have elaborated on a question, or totally blew it with a weak answer? Now’s your chance to correct your answer.

5. Suggest a solution to a problem: Prior to the interview you were unaware of a problem the company is facing. Now you know about the problem. If you have a solution to this problem, mention it in your follow-up or a more extensive proposal.

6. You want the job: You told the interview committee at the end of the interview that you want the job. Reiterate this sentiment by stating it in you follow-up note, which can be as simple as asking what the next steps will entail. This shows your enthusiasm and sincere interest in the position.


Demonstrating excellent customer awareness in the job-search process is key to your success in getting that desired job. Remember to conduct thorough research, write a resume that is written based on your research, perform stellar in the interview, and complete the process by following up.

4 Areas Where Customer Awareness in the Hiring Process is Key: Part 1 of 2 Articles

Where I buy my coffee there are certain employees who know how I like it made and, just as important, the lid I prefer. I hate straws because of the mess they make in my car and how they’re destructive to the environment. So, I ask for the lid from which you sip.

Photo by Yan Krukov on Pexels.com

One employee, in particular, will rush over to correct my coffee order, made by another employee, and change it from a lid which requires a straw to a sippy one. She is aware of my preference. She possesses strong customer awareness.

Customer awareness isn’t only present in food retail; it’s present in every aspect of our lives. The workplace is another example. We interact with our internal customers, our colleagues and supervisors. If our team is inharmonious, there is a chance that the project will fail.

In the community we are aware of the people around us; they are also our customers. I had a neighbor who would trim our hedges, and I would cut his lawn. He was better at trimming than I was; I was able to push a lawn mower while he wasn’t. We practiced customer awareness.

The hiring process is an obvious example of where customer awareness is required. The stakes are high. Employers need to fill positions to make their organizations run smoothly and profitably; job seekers must be the ones to fill the positions.

Of the two entities, the employer and the job seeker, none is more important than the other. In this article of two, we’ll look at how the employer can demonstrate customer awareness in the hiring process.

The employer

The hiring process will operate seamlessly if customer awareness is practiced effectively by the employer:

  1. Writing an accurate job ad
  2. Practice fair and effective recruitment
  3. Conducting interviews that garner the most qualified candidate
  4. Following up with the candidates no matter what the decision

The job ad

Do you think employers sit around the table and say, “Let’s write a job ad that is vague so we’ll attract the worst candidates”? You probably don’t. But in some cases, employers subconsciously produce an ad that is exactly that, vague. Job candidates read the ad and wonder, “What do they want here?”

They go into the interview where they’re confronted with questions that don’t address the requirements of the position they need to fill. If you’re a job seeker, you’ve probably experienced this scenario at one point during the hiring process. A total lack of customer awareness.

Employers must get buy-in from the immediate group of employees who will interact with job candidates and create a job ad based on the needs of these employees. This said, the needs should be doable for qualified candidates. In other words, the job ad shouldn’t be a mountainous list of duties.

The end result of a job ad that shows customer awareness is one that results in interviewers and candidates entering a business agreement with their eyes wide open, not one that confuses both parties. Employers who know what they need will better serve themselves and job candidates.

Recruitment

Not all job seekers will encounter a recruiter. Some will meet with HR and hiring managers. For sake of argument, let’s use the word “recruiter” as one of the hiring authorities. Let’s also agree that recruiters are the front-line of the hiring process. Therefore, they must also be a brand ambassador.

Too often we hear about recruiters who mistreat job candidates. They schedule, reschedule, and cancel interviews. Stressful would be a kind word to describe what the candidates experience. In addition to mistreating the candidates, this behavior hurts the company’s brand.

Recruiters must refrain from this behavior in order to demonstrate strong customer awareness. They should empathize with the candidates who are struggling with the letdown and, in many cases, despondency that is commonplace with the hiring process.

Customer awareness is better demonstrated when recruiters treat their clients and candidates fairly. Yes recruiters are paid by the employer, but their behavior is well noted by candidates who can be a source of referrals down the road. Many of my clients speak fondly of recruiters they’ve worked with, and some don’t.

Interviews

This is where the hiring process often fails. There are a number of reasons, the first of which is mentioned above, but a poorly written job ad is only the beginning. The number of interviews is another example of poor customer relations. The final example of poor customer awareness is the way they’re conducted.

The record of interviews one of my customers endured was nine or ten; I don’t remember. I think we can all agree that any number of interviews beyond four is too many. It makes one wonder…why? Why can’t employers make a determination by the third or fourth interview?

I think we can also agree that making a determination after the first interview is also ludicrous. It’s like bringing a girl or boy home after a week of knowing them and telling your parents that you’re getting married.

I’ve heard my share of piss poor interviews my clients have endured. One that comes to mind is a phone interview that consisted of a list of inane questions such as, “What is your greatest weakness,” “Where do you want to be in five years,” and, believe it or not, “If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you want to be?”

Do you get the idea? Employers who ask questions like these lack creativity and don’t have a strategy in plan. Back to the job ad and knowing what employers want in their next hire: the questions asked should pull the best out of candidates. They should be directly related to the requirements of the job.

Behavioral-based questions are the best questions. They are the ones that show customer awareness. Sure, hard technical questions are also necessary to determine who is the most qualified, but they alone aren’t enough. Do the candidates a solid and make them dig deep into their story bag to prove their worth.

Follow through

I say that the interview is a deal breaker when it comes to customer awareness. A close second is follow through, or there lack of. This phase of the process is not the sole responsibility of the recruiter; much of it relies on hiring managers who must communicate to the go-between. They must play a larger part in the process.

All too often hiring managers feel that filling a role that will make their lives easier, don’t invest enough in the process. Recruiters pull their hair out trying to get a pulse from the hiring manager. Candidates sit by the phone waiting to hear from the recruiter. No, the real problem is the hiring manager.

For the sake of the hiring manager and the company’s brand, they must, must, must treat their next valuable resource with respect. When they say they’ll make a decision in a week, make that decision, or at the very least keep the recruiter and the candidates in the loop. Candidates can take the truth.


Much mudslinging and some strong suggestions have been made. To do the employer a service, the next article will focus on what job candidates must do to demonstrate excellent customer awareness. Namely, they must:

  1. Research the position and company
  2. Write a resume that speaks to the employer, not the ATS
  3. Perform well in the interview
  4. Follow up respectfully.

4 Areas in Your Job Search Where You’re Broadcasting Your Age

One concern I hear from job seekers in their 50’s and above is the prevalence of ageism they encounter in their job search. While I don’t disagree with these job seekers that ageism exists, I also tell them that they could do a better job of not broadcasting their age.

Photo by Ron Lach on Pexels.com

There are four major areas where older job seekers need to be cognizant of how they present themselves:

  • Resume
  • LinkedIn profile
  • Networking
  • The interview

If you’re an older job seeker and feel that you are experiencing ageism, take a close look at these major areas and ask yourself if you are broadcasting your age.

Your Resume

You’re definitely broadcasting your age if you begin your Summary with, “More than 30 years of progressive project management in manufacturing.” Just do the math. That puts you at least around 55, or quite possibly higher.

Another way you’re broadcasting your age is by listing every job you’ve had since the 80’s. Many job seekers feel that going back 25 or more years demonstrates relevant experience, but this is erroneous thinking; technology and procedures have changed. I advise job seekers to go back no further than 10 or 15 years.

The most obvious way to broadcast your age is by listing your graduation date from university or high school. Someone who graduates from university in 1985 makes them around 58.

I’m often asked, “Why should we lie? They’re  going to know our age when we get to the interview.” True, they can guess  your age when you get to the interview, but the idea is to get to the interview and sell yourself based on the benefits of a mature worker.

Besides, you’re not lying. You’re just not disclosing the whole truth. If it makes you feel more truthful, include an Previous Experience section that includes your previous employers and titles, but no years of tenure.

A valued LinkedIn connection and resume writer, Erin Kennedy, suggests changing your email address if it’s ancient: “Staying up with technology—and getting rid of that AOL and Hotmail email—shows you are current and/or willing to learn.

Your LinkedIn Profile

Here’s the most obvious way to broadcast your age…you don’t have a LinkedIn profile. One poll suggests that nearly 40% of employers won’t consider a candidate if they’re not on LinkedIn.

Here’s another red flag: you don’t have a photo. What is a recruiter to think when they don’t see a photo? The answer is that you’re trying to hide something.

Here you’re probably thinking that I’m contradicting myself. I shouldn’t reveal my age on my resume, but it’s alright to show my age with a photo? Here’s the thing; your profile is a networking document and without one, you’re killing your networking opportunities.

When people tell me they don’t have a photo because they look too old, I have two responses. First, it’s not your age that matters, it’s the quality of the photo. A little brushing up doesn’t hurt, and if you want to color your hair (guys), that’s an option.

My second point is perhaps the most salient; you’ll never know if you’re a victim of ageism because the few employers daft enough not to give you a second look won’t contact you. Whereas the ones who don’t care about age or appreciate an older worker will reach out.

But really, LinkedIn is a networking application, and to network you need to come across as personable. This means having a photo which makes you memorable and shows your personality.

Finally, like your resume, you list too many years of employment. I suggest being consistent with the number of years you list on your resume.

While Networking

I’ve heard people broadcast their age by saying to me, “I’ve been out of work for six months, probably because of my age.” Or “Getting a job will be tough because I’m over 55.” Or “Would you hire someone my age?”

To the last remark, I think, “No. Not because of your age; because you’re already giving up the fight.” If you want someone in your corner—going to bat for you—you need to come across as confident; not demonstrating a defeatist attitude.

Don’t get me wrong, I’d have the same concern if I were to lose my job. But I also believe that to dwell on your age and talk about it while networking is a complete turn off. It doesn’t express your value; it detracts from it.

Your goal is to show value with whomever you speak; this includes people who can be your greatest allies. It’s not only people you network with at organized events; it’s also people in your community and your former colleagues.

To show vitality, dress in more fashionable clothes. I’m not suggesting that you dress like my teenage boy, but perhaps drop the expensive all-weather wool slacks and opt for Khakis. Nice polo shirts during the summer hours are great.

And please smile. A smile goes a long way in terms of showing friendliness and enthusiasm, two traits all networkers appreciate. Someone who constantly appears negative or angry is not going to attract the networking bees.

During the Interview

Older job seekers tell me it’s in the interview where they experience blatant ageism, whether it’s because of the interviewers’ body language or the questions interviewers ask. But how the job seeker feels may not be reality; it may be a preconceived notion.

The first mistake an older  job seeker can make is going into the interview thinking they’ll suffer discrimination. It’s written on their body language and evident by their attitude. Their EQ rapidly plummets, and the game is already lost.

Instead of assuming the worse, you should dispel the myth that older workers are not physically up to the challenge by entering the room with a skip in your step. Not literally, of course, but you know what I mean. Show vitality immediately.

Your firm handshake and steady eye contact are very important in demonstrating your confidence and strong presence. Don’t disregard these first impressions, as they speak volumes about your personality.

Have I mentioned smile? As well, speak with confidence, addressing the interviewer/s with clarity and the proper tone. Timidity is not how you want to project yourself. Separate yourself from younger job seekers who are not self-assured.

When you answer questions be sure you answer them with confidence and always include statements about how you are willing to learn new technologies or procedures. Talk about your ability to work with a diverse group of people.

If you are directly asked how old you are (it’s happened), don’t get indignant and say, “That’s an illegal question, and I refuse to answer it.” (Unless you want to end the interview.) Instead answer truthfully and follow up with the benefits someone your age offers an employer.

Most importantly always provide answers that express the value you’ll bring to the company. The interviewer/s cannot discount this, especially if you include quantified results in your answers.

Huge bonus if you talk about your recent accomplishments, e.g., ones you’ve achieved in the past five years. For example: Last year I saved the company $493,020 in projected salary by completing four projects, when the projected number was only three. Here’s I did it….

Remember that you have more job and life experience than your counterparts and can hit the ground running. Employers want people like you. Believe this.

For more tips on how to do well in an interview, read this article.


Succeeding in these four areas of the job search are essential to your success. Maintain the mentality that you are young in spirit, yet more experienced than younger workers. Remember that you have much more to offer in terms of your maturity and EQ.

Sure there will be challenges, but you’ve faced many challenges and have successfully overcome them. This is yet another strength of older workers. Continue to focus on your strengths, not your weaknesses.

Don’t Let One Unsuccessful Networking Experience Be a Negative Teaching Moment

Experiences can be positive or negative teaching moments based how you look at them. A vivid experience in my life that stays with me to this day was when my father told me on one occasion not to brag. From then on I stopped bragging; this experience taught me humility.

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Another experience in my life was when I didn’t make it to the “Big Ball” as a high school teacher. Back then if you successfully survived your third year, you earned tenure. I gave up on teaching and often wish I hadn’t. This was a negative teaching moment.

There are times when job seekers give up, throw in the towel, after one unsuccessful networking experience. These times epitomize negative teaching moments.

Case in point was a job seeker who I met at one networking event I led. He looked discouraged as he was putting on his jacket on the way out.

I asked him how the event had gone. He told me that it hadn’t gone well; didn’t get anything out of it he told me. I should have done him a solid by telling him that one unsuccessful networking event shouldn’t deter him.

Come back again and again and again. You shouldn’t expect immediate gratification. Alas, I let him walk away to never return for another networking event. He saw this as an unsatisfying experience, a negative teaching moment.

It’s where you network that forms your experiences

Where job seekers network can form their positive and negative experiences. Many are under the impression that networking only consists of attending formal events where large groups of other job seekers gather to share advice and seek opportunities.

The atmosphere of large networking events caters more toward extravated types who thrive on the excitement of entering a church hall or library and seeing 50 or more people. This represents more opportunities for them.

Another benefit of larger networking groups is that guest speakers motivate the attendees by talking about various aspects of the job search. Once a month at the job club I conduct I’ll have guest speakers share their knowledgeable of topics like interviewing, networking, resume writing, LinkedIn, etc.

Read this article on proper and improper networking techniques.

However, large networking groups don’t garner the best ROI for everyone. This is particularly true for those who prefer introversion. To Introverts, a positive experience is a smaller, more intimate setting, where they can have in-depth conversations.

Small networking groups like Meet-Ups, dinner parties, buddy groups, etc. are more intimate and slower in pace. This allows members to talk at greater length and develop deeper relationships.

Buddy groups, in particular, can be positive experiences because members keep each other accountable for their search. Leaders of the groups will issue assignments such as updating their resumes, creating networking documents, practicing answering tough interview questions, etc.

Read this article on buddy groups.

Regardless of the size or purpose of the networking group, job seekers shouldn’t unsuccessful event prevent you from attending other events. Their preference might be large, formal events, or it might be smaller ones.

Networking is ongoing

What many job seekers fail to realize is that the networking process continues after they’ve applied for a position via the traditional process. They send their resume to a company and wait by the phone (not literally) for employers to call.

Employers don’t call. Yet, job seekers continue on the same path and suffer the same negative experiences. These are teaching moments that discourages them.

Here’s a scenario of a positive teaching moment. After applying online for a position, a job seeker contacts people with whom she’s worked in some capacity and tells them that she’s applied for a position. Do any of her networking contacts know someone in the department to which she’s applied?

One person does and provides valuable contact information, which is not privy to other candidates. Wisely she asks if she can mention her networking contact as a reference in the email she sends to the contact.

This is a form of networking that too many job seekers overlook. Their contacts can be a valuable resource after applying for a position. In many cases job seekers secure their positions by following through.

Job seekers might be successful, or not, at a networking event. If they’re not successful, they shouldn’t let one experience be a negative teaching moment. Rather, they should continue to network or find a networking style that works for them.


This article was inspired by Brian Ahearn, who recently wrote Is Experience Really the Best Teacher?

Should you have metrics on your resume/LinkedIn profile? 65% of voters say YES

Metrics in the form of numbers, percentages, and dollars give your resume’s or LinkedIn profile’s accomplish statements power and separate you from the fold. They cause readers to take note. They complete the story. They show proof.

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Based on a poll I conducted on LinkedIn, 65% of voters said metrics on your job-search documents are important to have, 25% voted “No,” and 10% stated, “It depends.” The poll is still active with 1,334 people who have voted.

Executive Resume Writer Adrienne Tom says it well: “Numbers provide the proof. Anyone can say they are good at something in their resume. Anyone. The only way an employer can tell exactly how good you are is to back up your claim with numbers and specifics. Provide the proof.”

An accomplishment statement consists of an action (what you did) and a result (hopefully quantified with #s, $s, and %s). Simply providing a statement is devoid of a positive impact on the company, or an accomplishment.

Conversely, listing only the quantified positive result fails to explain to the reader how you were able to achieve the result. Some job candidates do half the job of writing an accomplishment statement by doing this.

Following is an example of a project manager who led a team of 6 software engineers to complete four major projects in one year. They were able to complete the projects before estimated time, thus saving the company cost on salary.

Duty
Championed a team of 6 software engineers completing 4 projects in 2020.

The problem with the duty alone is it doesn’t show the positive impact on the company. Here’s the positive impact on the company.

Quantified result
Saved the company $493,020 in projected salary.

You see that to only list the quantified result robs the reader of learning how the person achieved it. Following is the full accomplishment statement.

Saved the company $493,020 in projected salary by championing a team of 6 software engineers to complete 4 projects in 2020. The projected number of projects was 3.

An 18-wheel truck driver traverses the country on an annual basis. On their resume or LinkedIn profile, the candidate simply writes a duty: “Drove 18-wheel truck across the US.

Not nearly as impressive as: “Traversed the US 200,000+ miles annually, accomplishing a perfect safety record and earning Top Driver out of 30 employees for fastest hauler.

Better: “Earned top driver out of 30 employees for fasted hauler by traveling the US 200,000+ miles annually; achieved perfect safety record.

We can assume this truck driver saved money for their employer based on being the fastest hauler, and saving money equals increasing revenue. Alas, these figures aren’t available to the driver.

Laura Smith-Proulx provides an accomplishment statement that contributed to her latest TORI win (Best Classic High Tech resume):

Growth Imprint: Elevated Advantech to #2 market ranking by developing and deploying Demand Response product at global customers (now running 38%+ of all US electricity). Promoted offering at World AI IoT Congress.

Biron Clark offers an accomplish statement for a customer service rep who improved a process in their role.

Saved business $29,000 in 2019 by implementing new customer service process that reduced customer refund requests by 9%

Saving costs and increasing revenue ain’t all that matters

What you’ve accomplished in your most recent experience isn’t only about saving costs or increasing revenue; although, that’s great. Companies and organizations appreciate these two accomplishments. But what if you don’t have the numbers for metrics?

Jessica Sweet: While I will agree that numbers are important Bob, I will also say that not everything that is important can be measured by numbers. Improving morale – can you quantify that? Maybe you can quantify the increased productivity, but the fact that people don’t have ulcers anymore or aren’t on the verge of divorce because of the stress.

Coaching younger employees – can you quantify that? Maybe there’s less turnover or better performance, but the fact that you stick in their mind as the best boss ever, even 30 years later, and the one that inspired them to have a great career?

So there’s other things you can’t put numbers around that really, really matter.”

I agree that it isn’t always possible to provide metrics in your accomplishment statements. One solution might be using a quote, as such:

“Shannon has brought innovative supply chain strategies to (company) which made us more efficient and save cost. Our customers were extremely pleased with Shannon’s attention to their needs.” Bob Jones, VP Operations, ABC Company

Or simply state your value to the company/organization.

Frequently acknowledge by manager for providing the best service to our patients; earned “Employee of the Year, 2020.

Nii Ato Bentsi-Enchill provides a great example of an accomplishment statement which doesn’t contain a quantified result:

Designed ‘New Product Validation Program’ from scratch, enabling for the first time onsite initial quality verification to improve non-conforming parts prior to new vehicle launch, vastly reducing reliance on external labs.”


One person who wrote a comment for the poll I conducted said it nicely when it comes to quantifying results, or not:

Matt Warzel: Yes all resumes should have some focus on KPIs and bottom-line accomplishments. If you have sales, metrics, etc. use them! If not (or they have to remain confidential), turn your sentences in accomplishments still focused on operational impact, but without the figures. Streamlined efficiency, drove revenue gains, reduced waste, optimized workflow, saved money, etc…

64% of voters say they will pay someone to write their job-search documents

There are times when having a professional do a job for you—like replacing the brakes on your car, installing a water heater, or roofing your house—is the right way to go. Let’s add one of my recent failures, installing a screen and glass door to the list.

Some of you might be thinking about the aforementioned projects, “I can do that. I’d rather do it myself than waste the money.” And perhaps you can at the expense of your valuable time and doing a shoddy job. Not good.

Smart consumers understand the value of their time and getting the job done right. Another project you think you can DIY is writing your job-search documents (resume and LinkedIn profile). But will you write documents that will truly show your value to employers? Or will you do a shoddy job?

As I’m wont to do, I polled LinkedIn members asking them if they would pay for someone to write their job-search documents. Sixty-four percent (64%) of them said they would, 29% voted no, and 7% stated they write job-search documents for a living. Eliminating the third option, leaves us with a strong affirmative for the first option.

Hiring someone to write your job-search documents

I should have prefaced this article by saying that I’m not promoting resume and LinkedIn profile writers. What I’m saying is that if you decide to outsource your job-search documents, make sure your writer can accomplish the following:

Won’t put you in debt

For many people who find themselves unemployed, the cost of hiring someone to write their job-search documents is a concern. Massachusetts offers the highest unemployment benefits at $823 a week. Mississippi, on the other hand, offers $235 a week. Someone from Mississippi will have a more difficult time paying to have their documents written.

Even if you live in a state like Massachusetts, there are other bills to pay. You need to determine if hiring a writer to do the job for $500-$1,500 is within your budget. Perhaps you received a generous severance or you accumulated a substantial savings. This might provide you with enough resources.

One solution might be asking loved ones for money to pay a writer to produce your job-search documents. Your brother in California isn’t aware of your industry and occupation, but he can send you $200 to help you in your job search. This will lessen the impact.

Saves you time

Creating strong job-search documents is time consuming. For some it’s a matter of producing a resume they’ve been updating over the course of their career, or just beginning to write their LinkedIn profile; but for others it could be creating the documents from scratch.

I’ve had high-level job seekers who’ve never written a resume or profile. They’ve been at their previous job for more than 30 years, and in between gigs they didn’t require these job-search documents. Rare, but it’s possible.

Do you have the resources to do the job right? Hiring someone to write your documents can save you hours and allow you to focus on your job–if you’re currently working–and conduct other aspects of your job search, such as researching companies on your target list.

Has a great reputation

I was hired a few years ago to review resume writing services that revised a poorly written resume I sent them. The results varied but, for the most part, out of seven resume writing services two returned acceptable products. I refer to them as resume mills because they pump out resumes by the hundreds per week.

None of the resume writing services achieved what I’m talking about here, getting a sense of who the “candidate” was and what he had accomplished. Many of the products these resume mills produced focused on keywords that they said would make the resume ATS-friendly.

It’s important that you do your research and find the best resume and LinkedIn profile writer to fit your budget, while also producing products that will land you interviews. (Also keep in mind that no writer in their right mind will guarantee the documents they write will land you tons of interviews.) How you distribute your resume is a key factor.

Is in sync with your occupation/industry

If you’re going to hire someone to write your job-search documents, it would probably be best that said person is familiar with your occupation and industry. I’m not implying that if you’re an engineer or marketer that the writer must be a former engineer or marketer. I am saying that your writer is qualified to produce a product that will be relevant to the position for which you’re applying.

Let’s say you have consistently increased processes which saved your team time, but your writer believes that increasing revenue is what should be highlighted. Because they don’t understand the nature of your occupation, they fail to hit the mark. You’ll get the sense that you’ve wasted a great deal of time and money.

A good writer will refer you to someone who’s more qualified to write your job-search documents. In the past, I’ve referred people to writers who are more aligned with job seekers. Why waste the job seeker’s and my time?

Can tell your story

A great writer will effectively tell your story. They will interview you to produce a product that will give the employer a strong sense of your career trajectory and your accomplishments that include metrics. Your job-search documents will sell you from the beginning of the documents to the very end.

Most important is the Experience section that tells a story through accomplishment statements that read like a S.T.A.R. formula. Here is a story followed by the two-line accomplishment statement:

What
ŸŸŸŸImplemented new CRM software to help Sales.

How
Approached and received approval from upper management.
Implemented Infusionsoft software for sales; originally using Excel on Intranet.
Trained Sales on how to use Infusionsoft.

Results
Increased productivity of Sales team 50%.
Completed 2 weeks ahead of schedule: projected 3 months.
CEO announced my achievement in front of staff at building meeting.

The one-line accomplishment statement

  • Increased productivity of Sales Team 50% by initiating and implementing Infusionsoft software 2 weeks before 3-month deadline. Received accolades from CEO

Ideally your writer can create a story for every accomplishment on your document, but this isn’t always possible. Good writers will “drag” your stories out of the recesses of your memory.


As I mentioned earlier, this is not an advertisement for job-search document writers. On my journey through LinkedIn I have come across great resume writers who will meet most of your objectives—cost, time saving, great reputation, in sync with your industry, and tell your story.

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Starting with years of experience in your elevator pitch and on resume could hurt you

It’s inevitable. When an older job seeker delivers their elevator pitch to me, they lead with something like “I have 20 years of experience in project management.” My reaction to this auspicious beginning is that it’s not…auspicious. In other words, the person’s years of experience doesn’t impress.

The same principle applies to a resume; touting years of experience in the Summary doesn’t impress a reader. It certainly doesn’t impress me. And I imagine it doesn’t impress hiring authorities, as evident by a raging poll that is only two-days old on LinkedIn.

What impresses me AND employers is what you’ve accomplished most recently, say in the last five to seven years, and that your accomplishments are relevant to the employer’s needs. In addition, because you have 20 plus years of experience doesn’t prove you’ve been productive.

Angela Watts is a former recruiter turned recruiter has this to say about showing value over years of experience:

“Years of experience in and of itself means nothing… you may have been doing a job very poorly for 20+ years. Show me the accomplishments… the pattern of success across roles and companies… your compelling value proposition for THIS open position.”

Hannah Morgan is a career coach and speaker who advises candidates to talk about relevant value and using a hook to begin the elevator pitch and the resume Summary:

This has been a pet peeve of mine since I started! It’s always about what you know how to do (problems you solve). The number of years is irrelevant. Explain the level at which you perform your job! And yes, always get them with a hook. Make it relatable!

If you ask 10 people how someone should deliver their elevator pitch or begin their resume Summary (more about the Summary below), you’ll get 10 different answers. This doesn’t mean the answers will be wrong; it simply means the components of each will vary slightly or be arranged in a different manner.

Your elevator pitch

Following is my opinion on how to deliver the elevator pitch without stating years of experience.

Start strong

Instead of beginning your elevator pitch with the number of years you’ve been in occupation and industry, explain why you enjoy what you’re doing. That’s right, tell the interviewers or fellow networkers what drives you in your work. I’m tempted to say what you’re passionate about, but why not?

People like to hear and see enthusiasm. Especially employers who are hiring people for motivation and fit. Sure, technical skills matter. Employers need to know you can do the job, but your years of experience doesn’t prove you can do the job. “I have 20 years of experience” is a “So what?” statement.

Let’s look at a sample answer to “Tell me about yourself.” The following statement shows enthusiasm and draws the listener’s attention, especially with inflection in your voice:

I knew marketing communications was the route I wanted to take as soon as I realized what an impact it has stakeholders. Playing an integral role in getting the company’s message out to the public is one of my greatest pleasures, (slight rise in voice) especially when it increases awareness of our products or services.

Back it up with relevant accomplishments

This part of your elevator pitch is the most important, as you will speak to the employer’s needs. Two or three relevant accomplishments of what you’ve achieved most recently is best. But keep in mind they don’t want to hear your life story. Keep it brief, yet impactful.

(Big smile) One of my greatest accomplishments is having recently led a social media team of five who were able to increase traffic to my previous company’s website 250% since I took over. I was hired for the role because of my (slight rise in voice) leadership abilities and intimate knowledge of the platforms we used, such as: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.

(Slight pause)

One of my favorite aspects of communications is writing content for press releases, whitepapers, customer success stories, newsletters, and product releases. My former boss said I was the most prolific writer he’s seen. More importantly, (slight rise in voice) I increased our organization’s visibility by 40%.

(Another slight pause)

I know you’re looking for someone who can create and conduct webinars. I have extensive experience over the past five years delivering three webinars a week on a consistent basis. These were well received by our (spread arms wide) 10s of thousands of viewers. One of my favorites was interviewing the VP once a month.

Wrap it up with energy

You’ve made it to the concluding statement. Maintain the energy that makes you the go-getter all employers want. Make them look past your age and focus on what you’ve achieved. A strong ending will set the tone for the rest of the interview. Use the word “energy.” If you say it, they’re more likely to believe it.

I’d like to end by saying that I’ve received multiple awards of recognition from my colleagues for not only the expertise I demonstrated (slight rise in voice) but also the energy I exuded. In addition, I was often told by my boss that if she could clone me she would. I will bring to your company the experience required and the energy needed to get things done.

You might be an older candidate, but by not letting interviewers to focus on your 20-years of experience and more on what you’ve accomplished, your chances of wowing them will be greater. They would if I were interviewing you.

What about the resume Summary or Value Proposition?

I propose that your Summary shows personality as well as value you’ll deliver to the employer. You might consider it a miniature elevator pitch. The example below is written in first person point of view, which gives the Value Proposition more personality.

I Identify and minimize risk by predicting the demand for products and adopting new technology with no interruption to the process.

One of my fortes is implementing strategies to speed up the processes of packing, loading and delivering products, thereby increasing customer satisfaction.

“Shannon has brought innovative supply chain strategies to (company) which made us more efficient and save cost. Our customers were extremely pleased with Shannon’s attention to their needs.” Bob Jones, VP Operations, ABC Company

The quote is not a mistake. Quotes can be very impactful because what others say about you weighs heavier that what you say about yourself, especially if it’s coming from someone as high as the VP of operations.


Selected quotes from the poll

Kevin D. Turner: Experience naturally is both Quality & Quantity but I recommend not leading with Quantity. XX Years of Experience was once a perceived value and now can be a limiter to a sizable % of those decision makers who are doing the hiring.

To many, XX years of experience, could bring up thoughts like; ‘they are set in their ways and won’t do it our way,’ ‘they have so many years of experience, we just can’t afford them,’ or ‘How will Bob with XX years of experience relate to 95% of our staff that are Millennials and Gen Z’s?” Put Quality first and let them figure out quantity.

Karen Tisdell: In Australia starting a profile with “I have 20 years experience in…” is standard. It’s also counter to our culture of mateship. 20 years implies that you are better than someone with only 2 or 5 years, and yet we all know that people don’t always have to have years of experience to be brilliant at their job.

Only recently a client of mine won an industry award and he has only been in the industry 5 years, and two of those were part-time. I dislike the ‘where’s my crown?’ implication in the 20 years rhetoric, as you say Bob McIntosh – it’s far from auspicious. It’s snooty, top-down, hierarchical.

Rich Ormond: I think that years of experience are very relevant, although certainly not the totality. If what you say is the default way of thinking, then people like me are in trouble. I’ve essentially had three careers so far — renewable energy, international aid, and now career services.

What’s more, I’ve gone back and forth between them (especially the first two). If I can only count what I’ve done in the last five to seven years, then I can never transition back to a former career.

No, if I ever decide to do so, you can be sure that I will be relying heavily on my years of experience in those fields, citing my recent years only as building complimentary skills. For those like me who do not have linear careers, listing your years of experience in a field is a must, I think.

Virginia Franco: I agree completely — your years of experience isn’t nearly as important as what you’ve done during that time. That being said, it’s confusing for job seekers because job posting usually list desired years of experience!

Meg Applegate: I wholeheartedly agree, Bob! Lead with your unique value not length of tenure. Answer the “why does this matter?” question and the WIIFM questions that hiring managers are asking when reading your resume.

LAURA SMITH-PROULX:I cannot stand to hear elevator pitches (or read resume / LinkedIn summaries) that tout XX years of experience, Bob McIntosh, because there are SO many better ways to describe oneself!

I have the unfortunate lens of having worked at an organization with longtime employees who’d simply clung to their jobs, with no real innovation or achievements to claim. Mere survival in one’s industry is of little value.

The other problem with this statement is that you could be up against candidates with a similarly lengthy career – and THEN what will you use for differentiation? Employers can quickly read or interpret your age and length of experience. Your career branding approach (throughout your elevator pitch and documents) must take care of the rest

Debra Feldman: ⚠ Years of experience can set off an alarm for older candidates. Rather emphasize accomplishments that are relevant to the needs of the employer. What’s that saying about it’s not the years in your life but the life in your years!

The majority of hiring authorities read the LinkedIn profile Experience section first, so make it shine

Most hiring authorities (recruiters, hiring managers, and HR) who read many LinkedIn profiles at a sitting will tell you that the Experience section is where they will go first when reading a LinkedIn profile. Not the About or Education sections.

Amazon recruiter Amy Miller states this in her recent YouTube video, How Do Recruiters Look at LinkedIn Profiles? Amy’s not the only recruiter who’s made the claim that hiring authorities prefer reading Experience first. Eighty-two percent (82%)* of hiring authorities I asked also agreed that they go to Experience first.

Bernadette Pawlik explains how she reads a LinkedIn profile: “Titles all the way down, Experience, then About. With LinkedIn profiles and with resumes, I quickly scan down the left hand side. A recruiter isn’t going to excavate your profile for your qualifications.

So, think of the LinkedIn profile as the menu and your resume as the entree. Titles should reflect your roles, Experience should very briefly outline context, responsibilities, and one or two accomplishments.

Marie Zimenoff, of CareerThoughLeaders.com, adds: “Although the About section may be first in a profile, there are a few reasons a recruiter or hiring manager will likely start with the Experience section when reading a profile.

First, hiring managers want to see if a candidate is qualified for the role before they take time to read an introduction like a cover letter or About section. Second, the Experience section titles are big, bold, and easy to skim – especially on mobile.

Invest more in your Experience section: 5 ways to do it

Given that Experience is preferred over About, it makes sense that you put your all into making it stronger. It’s been my experience that most job seekers don’t put as much effort into creating a strong Experience section as they do their About.

Is this because they’re encouraged by career coaches to beef up their About? I advise my clients to write a strong About section, telling their “story.” However, I also tell them they can also tell their story in Experience; that they can use first-person point of view even. Here is how Experience should be written.

1. Experience needs to tell a better story. Don’t have verbiage for your Experience section? A quick fix of copying the content of your resume to your profile is the first step; however, you’re not done yet.

You still have to modify Experience to make it more personal, more of a networking piece of your document. This means your point of view should be first-person and, of course, include quantified results.

Start with a job scope to craft your story. For example: “As the Director of Marketing Communications, ABC Company, I planned, developed, and executed multi-channel marketing programs and performance-driven campaigns, using digital marketing principles and techniques to meet project and organization goals.”

Use first person point of view for your accomplishments to tell a story. Take, for example, an accomplishment statement from a resume might read: “Volunteered to train Sales Team on Salesforce, increasing the team’s output by 75%.

Better: I extended my training expertise by volunteering to train Sales Team on Salesforce. All members of the team were more productive as a result of my patient training style, increasing the team’s output by 75%.

2. Utilize SEO by expanding your title. Did you know that the titles of your positions are weighed heavily in terms of keywords?

Ed Han is a recruiter who talks about the importance of titles in Experience: “There are several places where keywords are weighted more heavily than other parts of your profile. One area where they are weighted pretty heavily is in the Experience section.”

According to Ed, this would be wrong: CEO at ABC Company.

This would be better: CEO at ABC Company ~ New Business Development | Global Strategic Relationships | Increasing Market Share 74% 2020-2021

3. Expand the description of your role, no matter who you are.  You’re a VP, director, or CEO; so you think that says it all. Wrong! At the very least, your leadership as a director of an organization plays an essential role in its success.

  • What is the scope of your authority?
  • How have you helped the organization grow?
  • Have you contributed to the community or charities?
  • Have you turned around failing companies and made them more profitable?

Remember, you’re representing the organization. Your overall responsibilities and highlights will catch the eyes of hiring authorities. Here’s an example from one of my former clients of his job scope followed by a few accomplishment statements:

In this position, I was one of only four executives/staff retained in acquisition of Company ABC to remotely direct global sales, marketing, and product management. I created competitive analysis, technology roadmap, and product marketing for business unit success.

Highlights
Increased gross profit 9% year-over-year through BU cost reduction, improving product procurement process, negotiating vendor contracts, and owning product pricing structure.
Generated revenue growth of 76% by improving forecast accuracy, lead generation, engaging with key marketing influencers, and conducting technical workshops,
Expanded global sales by 20% through improved lead and opportunity management, technical training, identifying new markets, and improving channel partner experience.

Note: In this case, my client didn’t write his accomplishments in first-person point of view.

4. Stick with the accomplishments, ditch the mundane duties. There are two ways you can look at your position descriptions; you can stick with only the accomplishments, or you can mimic your resume.

I’m in the opinion that your accomplishments alone would impress hiring authorities more than all your duties and a few accomplishments.

You’re probably proud of those duties and don’t want to let them go. Here’s the thing, accomplishments speak much louder than duties. Unless you can turn those duties into accomplishments with quantified results (or perhaps qualify them), I suggest you ditch them.

After reading your flashy, personal LinkedIn profile Experience section, hiring authorities can turn to your resume to get the whole picture. Don’t disappoint them by presenting duplicate versions of the two documents.

Add some zing to your Experience. Few people know that you can bold text on the LinkedIn profile. I’m going to let you in on how to do it. Go to: LingoJam.

Copy what you want to bold and paste it into the field on the left. Your bolded text will appear in the box on the left. Here’s an example from my profile:

❍ 𝗜 𝗿𝗲𝗰𝗲𝗶𝘃𝗲𝗱 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝟮𝟬𝟭𝟵 𝗠𝗮𝘀𝘀𝗛𝗶𝗿𝗲 𝗜𝗻𝗴𝗲𝗻𝘂𝗶𝘁𝘆 𝗮𝘄𝗮𝗿𝗱 for my part in delivering webinars on various job-search topics for MassHire Lowell Career Center. 🏆

What this? There’s an award trophy at the end of the sentence. Yes, you can also use emojis on your profile. One of my favorite sites for emojis is Susan Joyce‘s article on Job-Hunt.org. Susan makes it easy to copy and paste the emojis, which she calls eye candy. There are other sites that provide “eye candy.”


What do LinkedIn’s new changes to About and Experience sections tell us? Kevin Turner, Jeff Young, and Gillian Whitney collaborated on a project that boiled down to some minor changes to About and Experience. About displays four lines opposed to three, and Experience displays only two lines.

LinkedIn’s efforts to emphasize About and de-emphasize Experience won’t change hiring authorities’ opinion on which section they’ll go to first. For the majority of them it will be Experience.

*A current poll reveals recruiters and others prefer Experience by only 61%.

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The job-search networking newsletter for any holiday

Like me, you receive holiday newsletters from friends and relatives who you see infrequently. You may look forward to receiving these yearly letters or dread them because they carry on for pages about personal information best saved for a therapist.

For job seekers these newsletters can serve as a great way to network if written properly. You’re sending these holiday networking newsletters to people who care about your welfare and would like to help in any way they could.

Maybe your uncle Jake once worked at Raytheon and still has connections there, past or present; or your former roommate from college is doing well for himself in marketing in NYC. Your brother is active on LinkedIn and probably has connections living in your area. He’ll sing your praises for sure. The list of possibilities is great.

Keep in mind that you’re not contacting employers or fellow job-seeking networkers who understand the lingo and nuances of networking for work. You’re reaching out to friends and relatives who know little to nothing about your situation or experience and goals. Thus, the content should be written for the layman.

The Opening

First wish your recipients a happy holiday. You’ll start light and stay light during the entire letter. This is, after all, the holidays.

“Hello loved ones. It’s been a busy year for the Jones, and we have a lot to tell you. First let me start by telling you that we have a new puppy; I think that sums up ‘busy.’ Ellen has me on house-training duties, and for the most part I’m doing all right. We’ve named him Messi after the great soccer player. He’s pictured below.” 

Body of Newsletter

News about the family is always appreciated.

“I’m proud to say that Tommy Jr. graduated from college and is interning at Fidelity. It helps that he developed a network while in college. I’m proud that he understands the importance of building relationships.

“Claire is enjoying her senior year in high school and much to the chagrin of Ellen and me (did I say that?) is dating a wonderful boy who dotes on her. She’ll be heading off to UMaine and he’ll be going to Florida State (Joy).

“Little Jason is entering high school with intentions of wrestling and playing soccer. He doesn’t seem to be thinking of what he wants to do after high school. He jokes about becoming a professional gamer. (Does that exist.) Really, Jason is a good boy; I’m not too worried.”

Continue writing about what’s happening on the family front, but don’t brag too much. How many times have we read holiday newsletters that sound like a commercial for the all American family? Keep it real. However, don’t write negative content.

The Conclusion

Be upbeat and positive as you tell your recipients about your current situation. You want your friends and relatives to think about how they may help; you don’t want to drive them away with demands or sound needy or despondent. Hearing about your situation will prompt many of them to inquire how they can help you.

“I think you may recall that I’m in transition from my position as director of marketing at my former software company. I enjoyed my tenure there but, alas, the company was sold to a European conglomerate. Please have a great (holiday) and, above all else, remain safe.”

Sign off with your telephone number and LinkedIn URL, if it feels appropriate. Also ask your recipients to write back with news about what’s going on in their lives. Good networking is not only about you; it’s also about those with whom you communicate no matter who the audience is.

In Addition

A post script could add a nice touch.

PS: This holiday I’ll be serving at our local soup kitchen. I am looking forward to giving to the community by helping those who aren’t as privileged. I’ll be home for Thanksgiving dinner which we’re celebrating with some relatives and close friends.

Some important things to note: don’t ask if anyone knows of a job. You don’t want to put undue pressure on your friends and relatives who are not consumed with the labor market. The best delivery method for your holiday networking newsletter would be email, but a paper letter is also acceptable.

Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko on Pexels.com
Photo by Tanya Gorelova on Pexels.com