Hybrid is the Preferred Workplace Model, Not Remote

I’ll preface by saying that work-from-home articles have been beaten to death. But this article is backed by a poll in which 2,602 people participated, and it includes comments from some of the voters. In my mind, this number of voters is a forum.

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Of those who voted, 49% prefer a hybrid workplace. This is not surprising, as we are social beings and enjoy the company of others. But we also enjoy the flexibility that comes from being at home.

Angela Watts wrote in support: “I’m incredibly grateful for the flexibility of [working from home] WFH; however, I really miss the connections and energy of an office. I think having the option to do both (hybrid) is ideal.”

We’ve come to realize that our work-life balance is enhanced by a hybrid work environment. I didn’t say remote, because even though 39% of the voters chose this work environment, I argue that there’s very little, if any, interaction with one’s colleagues. Ergo the lack of the work element. Some will argue with this statement profusely.

The pandemic gave us a taste of WFH; it forced this work environment on us. Personally, I didn’t enjoy WFH, as my family and I were “on top of each other” and I didn’t have the technology I needed to do my job properly. I couldn’t wait to leave for the office.

There are also those who’ve been WFH for many years and have grown used to it. Adrienne Tom is a professional resume writer who works remotely. She wrote: “I’ve been working from home for nearly 15 years, and I never miss going to an office. I still feel very connected to others even without the opportunity to see people in person and I feel like I do my best work in the space I’ve created for myself within my home.”

Working in the office only garnered 12% of the votes. Julie Kellerman, a former client of mine, wrote: “After working from home for 15 months I thought Hybrid would be my preference. I got a job that is 100% at the office & I really like it. I missed the city & nothing beats building relationships & learning a new industry face-to-face. The one downside is the commute, but I’m making it work. My planning has improved (meals, chores, laundry, social events) & I’m catching up on my reading!”

I was one of the 12% who voted for office work. Call me crazy, but I enjoy the interaction of my colleagues and the direct communication with my bosses. No, I’m not listening outside the door to meetings. That happened in my early years.

What about job seekers?

It’s fair to say, and somewhat a cliche, that looking for a job is a full-time job. It could take up to 60 hours (if done poorly.) Along with the research, resume and LinkedIn profile writing, networking, and interviewing required, one must keep their sanity intact.

Job seekers felt and still feel the pressures of working from home. During the pandemic, things were the worst for job seekers. Not only did they have to tackle the tasks mentioned above, they also had to network on LinkedIn and attempt to network via a video platform.

With kids in school, multiply job seekers’ struggles by 10. At the beginning of the pandemic, I watched my college-age child attempt to learn via Zoom. My daughter taught elementary-age students virtually for City Year. These learning and teaching instances were less than ideal.

With the pandemic waning, have things gotten better? I would say most definitely, but I also say that conducting a job search is tough if job seekers don’t leave the confines of their home. There are distractions that keep job seekers from conducting a proper job search. Who couldn’t resist taking an early morning walk or watching Ellen?

More so, the despondency seeps in when job seekers feel there are no places to go. I recently met with a client who insisted on meeting me in my office. My preference is meeting by Zoom, but I realize that he had to get out of the house. He admitted as much during our meeting.

The job search is further hindered by people’s reluctance of leaving home to attend in-person networking events. I have thought of resuming our career center’s networking group but know the attendance would be abysmal. This might change as time goes on.

You’d figure now that the pandemic has waned, job seekers would prefer to work in the office or at least a hybrid model. Some of my clients are seeking strictly WFH environments at the risk of passing up in-office positions. Maybe the pandemic has given them a taste of this model, and they don’t want to go back to the grind.

Remember the commenter who voted in favor of going into the office–even if it was traveling into a major city? She was a former client of mine. When I met with her via Zoom, I saw the pain on her face not so much of being out of work, but more of being stuck in her home.

Networking is the Toughest Job-Search Component Out of 4

It comes as no surprise that networking is the toughest component of the job search. This is according to a poll I conducted on LinkedIn. The other poll options were interviewing, writing resumes, and interacting with recruiters.

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What the results reveal is that oral communications is most difficult for job seekers. Clearly networking and interviewing require one to express their value, both in technical and soft skills. But writing a resume and communicating with a recruiter in writing also require the ability for one to express their skills.

Nonetheless, when the rubber meets the road, it’s the ability to interact with fellow networkers and interviewers that brings home the banner. Is this an extravert/introvert thing? Not necessarily.

Although, it’s believed that introverts are the better of the two at writing, and extraverts excel in oral communication. (One fault of the survey was not specifying that interacting with recruiters means doing it in writing.) Regardless, I think we can all agree that networking and interviewing are tough.


With networking comes the realization that results aren’t immediate. It’s about building relationships and being willing to give, as well as take. This is tough for someone who is trying to secure a job to comprehend. Sure, networking while working is also hard to do, but for many the stakes aren’t as high.

Take this scenario: you’re at a large networking event where it resembles herding cattle. The first person you approach is ready to deliver their elevator pitch. She stuns you with her elevator pitch, but you are not practiced at delivering yours, rendering you speechless.

Kevin Turner, comments on the value of networking:

‘Networking Always Beats Not Working!’ This holds true whether we are looking for a job or not. By focusing on building mutually beneficial relationships, we open up greater exposure, and that leads to greater opportunities. Networking isn’t easy for many, until they experience the doors that it opens. My advise for Job Seekers is dive in to networking.”

This statement is easier said than done for many job seekers I come across, who see a networking event as “What’s in it for me?” With this attitude, their efforts are fruitless. Other people in the room or on a Zoom call can smell this a mile away and will reject said person.

If you’re the exception to the rule, you’ll be much more successful in your networking efforts. You realize that immediately asking for help from the first person you meet is the wrong way to approach networking. As mentioned earlier, this is a slow process that might begin before you start looking for work.

Look at this scenario Laura Smith-Proulx describes:

If you continually push yourself out of your comfort zone and into places where people realize your value as a professional, that’s networking. Then, when you reach out and let others know you are seeking work, the pieces fall into place more easily. Yes, there are times when your industry is faltering or a recession is looming or other troubles arise, but regular relationship-building (combined with continued upskilling and volunteering for new challenges) WILL work in the long run.


Do you remember the first time you interviewed? Chances are you arrived to the interview unprepared. You didn’t research the position and company as extensively as you should have and, therefore, had a difficult time answering the questions.

Or perhaps you did fine.

Orlando Haynes, asserts that most job seekers find the toughest component of the job search is interviewing:

Being in Talent Acquisition for 20 years now. Interviewing is where I see the biggest gap across all levels of professionals. I would spend time developing strong interview skills.

Is this easier said than done? There are job seekers who will put in the time researching the position and company, but how many will spend time developing strong interview skills? Be honest with yourself. Are you anticipating the questions that will be asked, writing them down, and practicing answering them?

I recall one job seeker who took the time doing this. But she wrote down typical interview questions and the answers to them; not specific job-related questions. The thought of doing this is probably the reason why interviewing came in second as the toughest component of the job search.

Teegan Bartos writes that job seekers might be more confident in their interviewing ability than they should:

“And interviewing is probably what people say they feel the most confident in but anyone who’s ever been in a position to interview people before can tell you that’s the opposite of what they see.”

I concur with this assessment. Interviewing is tough. There’s a lot riding on the interview. These days, the interview process can involve multiple meetings via phone, video, in-person, and presentations. We’ve all heard of candidates who went through as many as 11 interviews (Jack Kelly wrote a popular post on this topic).

Writing a resume

To a person an executive resume writer would say writing a resume is difficult, but most (the good ones at least) would say it’s not the most difficult component of the job search. This aligns with the results of the poll, where this component ranked third as the toughest job-search component.

Laura Smith-Proulx agrees and writes:

Writing a resume is tough, especially for people with long, complex leadership careers (my specialty), but networking is very difficult when job seekers aren’t sure a) what it is; and b) how to do it without feeling like they’re asking for a job.

But to say writing a resume is easy would be ridiculous. I’ve come across resumes from executives that are full of fluff or are overly technical and, basically, show no value. This is how some people think:

  • I’m dynamic, therefore I am, or
  • I’ve used every software language under the sun, so I need to list them, or
  • I have to list every duty I’ve performed because this will impress the employer, or
  • All of the above.

Another misconception is that the job search starts with the resume. This is understandable, as the resume is an important document that is required by all employers. But in order to write a solid resume, a job seekers needs to know what the employer’s pain point is. Ergo, networking.

Communicating with recruiters

This poll was born because of a guest speaker event, where I interviewed a recruiter named Marisol Maloney. The guest speaker event was a result of a post she wrote on how to reach out to a recruiter.

As I mentioned earlier, reaching out to a recruiter is usually done in writing, which can happen via email or LinkedIn messaging. So this is probably why this option came in dead last as the toughest component of the job search.

The writing approach is more passive than communicating with recruiters via phone or in person. Angela Watts points out that, “at a certain point, the Recruiter is going to want to have a conversation.” This is a valid point.

Back to reaching out to a recruiter via writing: Marisol Maloney gives the following account as an improper way to contact a recruiter:

“‘Can you look at my resume and let me know if it qualifies for any positions your company may have available. I’m seeking positions in (state/city).'” in which I have no roles available. They would know that I don’t have any roles available in their desired location if they’d just looked at the website.

The mistake many job seekers make is assuming that a recruiter works for them, when it’s quite the opposite. Marisol suggest the following as better verbiage to use:

Hi (recruiter’s name), my name is Jane Doe and I saw on your LI post/careers page that you are looking for a Physical Scientist in Lorton, VA. I have an active security clearance and 10 years of experience as a Scientist and am interested in applying for that role. I do have a question about (state your specific question that has not been answered already by the job description).

Of course once a conversation is started with email or LinkedIn direct messaging, it must continue via phone or in person. Perhaps the reason this option ranked last is because not everyone communicates with recruiters.

Nonetheless, the other three options: networking, interviewing, and writing a resume are tough aspects of the job search. More than a few people commented that all four components stump them. I understand their frustration.

Coaching Sports and What Makes Older Workers Valuable

I coached soccer in my early 20s. To say I was a good coach would be inaccurate. Looking back at those years, I cringe at some of my acts of behavior. I was a hothead. I knew how to teach the fundamentals and knew strategy, but I didn’t know how to act on the sidelines.

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The games were all about me. Winning was paramount, and I took it out on my players if they didn’t play as well as I thought they should. I shouted at them when they didn’t make accurate passes, failed to score, played sloppy defense, and didn’t perform other skills that were fundamental to me.

Later in life, when I was in my 40s I coached my own children from their early stages through travel soccer. I can honestly say I rarely raised my voice during practice and games. Instead, I would shout words of encouragement. I realized then that criticizing my players didn’t motivate them; it demotivated them.

I think back to when my father coached me in baseball and how he rarely raised his voice, yet we won most of our games and some championships. He was a great coach because he outwitted other coaches who had more talented players. To him, the games were about his players, not him.

I’m telling you this because as I advanced in age, I matured. I’m also telling you this because one of the older worker’s traits is their maturity. Or you could call it diminished ego. You might mistake this for apathy; it’s the exact opposite. The older worker realizes that it’s not about them.

Are all older workers mature? No. There are some who never get to this point. I see it in the workplace, and I see it on the sidelines during a soccer game. But for the most part, the older worker strives for harmony.

Realize your value

If you think all companies are fast paced and strive for a young workplace, you’re mistaken. There are companies that value the maturity that workers who are 50 and older.

I hear from many employers who are struggling with young employees showing up late or calling in sick multiple times. This is a sign of immaturity. Are all young workers immature? No. The mature younger worker is the exception rather than the rule according to the norm.

The older worker was younger once and burned the candle at both ends. They took work for granted; I know I did. I didn’t understand the importance of dependability and possessing a strong work ethic, all traits the older worker demonstrates. And I learned eventually how to work more effectively.

Maturity comes from seeing the organization from the the owner’s point of view. This is similar to when I coached my own kids in soccer; I realized that yelling wasn’t going to motivate them. Later in life, I saw it when my father coached me. He and I let our egos wan.

Another reason why the older worker demonstrates maturity is that they have lost in the past. Loss of friends and family members have been traumatic, but it has made them stronger and taught them not to sweat the small stuff. Further, it has made them better problem solvers.

In the interview

This is where the older worker struggles the most in their job search. They don’t struggle because they are unprepared or lack knowledge; they struggle because of ageism and their attitude. One of these barriers can’t be overcome but one of them can.

The one barrier that can be overcome is not seeing a younger interviewer as someone who sees you as ancient. If you go to the interview with this mentality, the battle is lost. You must enter the interview with the attitude that you will provide maturity to the workplace and, therefore, value.

Mention your maturity in the course of the interviews. Tell the interviewers that you’re going to deliver dependability along with the vast relevant work experience you possess.

Empathize with the interviewer, acknowledging how you’ve seen how a lack of dependability can hurt a team’s performance. If you were the silent leader of a team, make this clear. With maturity comes the realization that you don’t have to be the proclaimed leader, as a title means less to you than the need to provide leadership.

Also make it abundantly clear that you’re not there to run the show. Younger interviewers often fear that older workers won’t follow their instructions. Instead of acting as though you are more knowledgeable than the interviewers, demonstrate how you will work in unison with the team.

Come across as a problem solver. As mentioned earlier, it is one of the older worker’s skills. Life is similar to work in that you have to handle what comes your way. Do you crumple when a project goes wrong? No, you tell those around you that you need to get back to work and correct the situation.

Finally, show self-awareness in your answers. All too often I hear and see people dance around difficult questions instead of taking them head on. The older worker understands that mistakes are made and is accountable for them. You must be accountable for your mistakes, showing what you’ve learned from them.

Older workers have a challenge to overcome in their job search. They face ageism at certain times. There are stereotypes employers have of them, one of which is the belief that older workers can’t work with younger ones. Being mature doesn’t mean you can’t work with younger workers; it means you understand the importance of working together.

4 Reasons Why You’re Not Getting Answers from Hiring Authorities

You’re a job seeker and who’s put forth your best effort in researching the positions and companies before interviews. You feel you’ve performed well in the plethora of interviews employers have dragged you through. But you haven’t received the feedback on the progress of your candidacy.

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The silence you’re experience could be for a number of reasons. Firstly, the hiring authorities don’t have time to respond. Secondly, they haven’t made a decision. Thirdly, they don’t have the authority to provide feedback. And lastly, as harsh as it may sound, they simply don’t want to answer your inquiries.

For whichever reason you’re experiencing radio silence, it isn’t right. It isn’t good business. But there are times when giving hiring authorities some slack is in order. The first of the four reasons is one that is often out of their control.

Don’t have time

Many recruiters have a hard time managing their day job, let alone walk the dog. They make multiple calls a week to source candidates, read numerous resumes, interview a ton of candidates, or they perform a combination of all of these responsibilities.

One recruiter I spoke with says she does her best to get back to her candidates, but if she gets so many applicants at once for just one requisition she “basically triages who will get contacted first and when.” Eventually she responds to her candidates.

Personnel in large HR departments also suffer from lack of time. They conduct multiple rounds of interviews, including phone and in-person screenings. Even though HR isn’t the final decision maker, their role of screening up to 40 or more applicants for a role is vital in the hiring process.

If you think hiring managers have the time to conduct interviews and send you an email on why you didn’t get the role, you’re sadly mistaken. In addition to their hectic schedule, they might sit in on up to 10 interviews for four candidates. Multiply 40 interviews by at least an hour, that’s a whole week of interviews.

Don’t know what the next step is

It’s quite possible that the employer doesn’t have its act together. In other words, they have the time to answer your email or phone call but can’t because they’re trying to decide between you and one, two, or three other people.

Another reason for not replying to your inquiry is that the hiring manager is waiting for an answer from a candidate to whom they’ve made an offer. With the job market being in better shape than it’s been in a while, job seekers have two or more offers from which to choose.

One of my clients recently landed a job. She had two companies courting her, which means there were at least two people waiting in the wings for the companies to make their decisions. In this case the companies didn’t want to muddy the waters explaining to the runners-up how the process was evolving.

Lastly, their hands are tied. They want to offer you the position but the requisition hasn’t been approved by HR or legal. This conundrum is beyond their control and, again, they don’t want to explain the mechanics behind the scene.

How many job seekers have heard apologies from employers for these reasons? More than a few of my clients have.

Don’t have the authority

The hiring manager might have authority to up date you on the hiring process, but very few of them will. The chance of being sued for discrimination is slim to none, but it only takes one candidate to scream ageism, or any other ism, to ruin their week. It’s not worth it.

One of my clients wanted me to reach out to the hiring committee on his behalf, as he was getting no love from them. I sent an email to one of them and never heard back. Responding to an email from a rejected candidate is particularly risky for any hiring authority. No one I know in this position would put an answer in writing.

Recruiters and HR don’t have the authority to respond to your request for an answer. As the go-between people, they must have the blessing from the hiring manager. However, the hiring manager might not be able to respond to your inquiry because of company policy. Again, the chance of being sued it too great.

When my clients attempt to get an answer from hiring authorities, they usually get a pat answer, “you’re not the right fit” which leaves them deflated because it’s basically no answer.

Don’t want to

I can honestly say there have been times when I receive a request for free help, and I don’t respond because the requester asks in such a way that turns me off. Sure, it could be a matter of time. But usually it’s because of the way in which the inquiry is posed.

I’ve received queries similar to this: “Hello, I would like a resume remake. Why should I hire you to do it?” I could have responded like this, “Hello, I would do a great job remaking your resume, but whey should I help you?” But I have better manners.

Do you get what I’m saying? Sometimes it’s a matter of how you ask for an answer to how you did in the interview.

As a career coach, I tell my clients to follow up on the process. Some hiring authorities might say that it’s futile to do this or that it will anger them and result in you not being considered for the position. Hogwash! No employer would disqualify you for performing your due diligence.

What you should do

It would be unfair of me to explain the reasons why you’re not hearing back from hiring authorities without providing solutions for you.

The obvious solution is to apply diplomacy in sending an email to the decision maker/s. I don’t suggest that you boldly ask how the hiring process is going. Rather, boost their ego.

The header of the email should read like: “Thank you very much for interviewing me.”

Because you’ve sent a thank-you note in which you’ve reiterated why you’re the best person for the job, you don’t need to repeat this. Instead, offer the hiring authorities who interviewed you something of value. I encourage an email be sent to each person who interviewed you.

For example, you write to one of the interviewers: During our conversation, you indicated you are an avid skier. Here is a list of the best kept secrets in the Boulder, CO, area. This has nothing to do with the position, but it keeps you top of mind.

The next question is how often should you follow up? I have recommended in the past that three times is the limit. I now recommend two times. After that, no answer is your answer.

Does Your Resume Pass the Test? 4 Problems to Consider

According to most resume writers, career coaches, and even some recruiters, job seekers’ resumes might be poor at best. This statement is based on a poll on LinkedIn where the aforementioned weighed in with their vote and some thoughts.

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Margaret Martin is a career coach for women who are in their 50’s and above. She writes:

The majority of clients I have come to me to update their resumes and then there are those who are assigned to me in their career transition programs. I have read / edited thousands of resumes over 15 years and very few are well written when I read them for the first time. Frankly, the majority are poorly done“!

In case you’re wondering, the poll asks the question: How many resumes have you read that are well written? The answers to choose from were: most resumes I’ve read shined, some resumes I’ve read shined, and few resumes I’ve read shined.

The sad fact is that 56% voted for few resumes they’ve read shined.

Margaret Martin isn’t the only commenter who bemoans job seeker’s resumes. Following are others who voice their opinions on the common resume problems:

Difficult to read

This is not to say there’s no hope for job seekers. However, how they should write their own resumes takes some common sense. Take readability for instance. Wayne Schofield is a technical recruiter who writes:

People think that tables, color, flash and flair stand out…well it does, but not for the better.

What stands out to someone like myself who reads and reviews hundreds of resumes each day is something easy to read, easy to traverse in order to find years, level, education and more.”

Being presented with an easy-to-read document is important. Consider that a recruiter like Dan Roth says the average recruiter glances at a resume for seven (7) seconds before deciding to read on. He, on the other hand, might take more time to read a resume based on the stage of the interview. He adds:

Sometimes I will look at a LinkedIn profile first. Then based on what I see, if I am having trouble identifying which of my roles the candidate falls into, I can spend 5 or so minutes going through the resume searching for details that will help me determine role and level the candidate fits into.”

Another consideration that escapes many people is writing a resume that’s easy to read on a smartphone. Virginia Franco, a resume writer and career coach, writes:

“I‘ve seen a bit of everything—some great, some horrible and plenty in between. The majority, though, aren’t written with the mobile or small-screen reader in mind. They are chock-full of dense text.”

Don’t show job seekers’ greatness

Some job seekers are cognizant of what they’ve accomplished and know how to express it through their resumes. But many more don’t get it. They write boring, duty-oriented documents and think it will impress employers. Laura Smith-Proulx, an executive resume writer begs to differ:

We are taught to be good at what we do, Bob McIntosh, but not to promote it or explain our own value proposition. That’s what I see in most “before” resumes… which are just scratching the surface re: the candidate’s ROI to an employer.

I see this all too often; a resume that reads like a grocery list of mundane duties, where there are opportunities to show my clients’ greatness. Someone who is in charge of implementing an SAP system must go beyond the obvious and talk about:

  • their role in the process
  • why it was installed
  • how quickly it was installed, and the result of the installation.

Following is an example of how one can add a few facts to turn the above duty statement into an accomplishment statement.

Increased companies efficiency 67% by orchestrating the installation—3 weeks before deadline—of SAP to replace antiquated CRM system.

Marisol Maloney, a talent acquisition specialist in the military sector, has a unique challenge with her clients who need to express their greatness to employers in the civilian sector:

Since most of my candidates tend to be veterans or transitioning service members, many of the resumes I get from this population lack metrics. I totally understand why this population falls short in selling themselves because I am former military myself.”

She gives as an example a part of a veteran’s accomplishment:

Provided the Group Commander, Troop Command Commander, and five Adjutant Generals and their staff with timely and accurate information on deployment and re-deployment data, logistics, personnel and equipment status.”

Which can simply be written:

Directed 300 personnel of multiple levels, providing senior management with timely and accurate operations information pertaining to data, logistics, and personnel and equipment status.”

Not written to the audience

Many job seekers write a resume for themselves, not employers. This stands out like a sore thumb and will often make hiring authorities disqualify resumes. They can spot a resume that lacks relevance simply based on a candidate’s titles. And upon further inspection, resume readers notice that the duties don’t match the requirements.

Shelley Piedmont, a former recruiter turned career coach, has read thousands of resumes and finds resumes that don’t address the audience to be a prevalent problem:

What most people don’t get about resume writing is to write the content for the audience. I have read so many resumes with extraneous information that has no relevance to whether you are qualified to do the job. Stick to that, and you will be on the way to having a resume that shines.”

Lisa Rangel has also read a ton of resumes prior to becoming a resume writer and emphasizes that resumes are marketing documents that need to meet the following objective:

Resumes are marketing documents and I see many job seekers don’t understand how to market themselves.

Often, these marketing documents are too focused on (1) what the job seeker can do and (2) not how well they did it and (3) not addressing how it’s relevant to the employer. When a job seekers can elevate to include #2 abd #3 in their document, this is what to separates themselves from competing candidates.

Here we have the three major problems resume writers, career coaches, and hiring authorities, former and current, share in the poll comments. Job seekers need to make their resumes easy to read, show their greatness, and be relevant. But there is another problem that comes to mind.

What about work history length?

Of the hundreds of resumes I’ve read, work history length is another problem I see with my clients’ documents. The average age of my clients hovers around 55 years, so they have up to 30 years or more work history. Naturally they want to taut their experience; they’ve worked hard and have accomplished great things.

However, what they accomplished beyond 10 or 15 year isn’t relevant. The technology and processes used today is different then that which used used back in the day. In reality, employers want to know what you’ve accomplished within the past five to seven years. Okay, 10 years.

The second concern is ageism. I tell me clients that the job of the resume is to get them to the interview. Why hurt your chances by giving away your age I tell them. Unfortunately some ignorant employers don’t value the benefits older workers will bring to them.

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.

Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

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.

Photo by Jopwell on Pexels.com

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.

Photo by Sora Shimazaki on Pexels.com

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.