9 Resume Writing Mistakes That Make Your Resume Downright Awful–Or Just Mediocre

Here are just a few big resume writing mistakes that can keep you from being taken seriously as a candidate.

These resume mistakes practically guarantee yours will be:



–and maybe even ridiculed.

There are millions of resumes floating around out there in both paper and electronic formats.

  • Some are downright awful. They’re an embarrassment. They should be burned or deleted.
  • Most are just mediocre. They’re not horrible, but they don’t make the boss jump up and down with excitement. Being “just OK” is not a recipe for a successful job search.
  • A few are fantastic and make the boss want to pick up the phone to set up an interview.

Here are a just a few of the many mistakes people make with their resumes. Fixing these things may not get you all the way to fantastic, but it will definitely move you significantly in the right direction.

Mistake #1:  Yucky Career Summaries

What better way to start down the road to creating a downright awful resume than with a career summary chock full of career jargon? People who look at lots of resumes practically get nauseous when they see something like this:


Hard-working, results-oriented executive who impacts the bottom-line. Problem solver and team player who communicates well and gets the job done….

 “Results-oriented” is a worn-out phrase. Most people are hard workers. We ALL solve problems. In fact, my dog solves problems. So, don’t tell me that you solve problems; let me know what kinds of problems you solve. What can you do that most people (and my dog) can’t?  Communicate your best skills in meaningful, plain English, like this:

THAT’S JUST THE BEGINNING OF THIS REPORT.  Click here to get your free copy of the entire report.  Just write “Resume Report” and we’ll send it right out. We’ll also periodically send you other helpful tips and articles.

Four Resume Disasters That Kill Job Searches

A lousy resume kills job searches. Well, OK, maybe it doesn’t KILL them. Someone will hire you eventually for something. But they can really hurt you.

Even resumes from services that charge huge fees can be disasters. One man asked my opinion about a resume that an online service did for him—for a hefty $800 fee. I had to tell him he’d been ripped off. The copy looked like a high school student had written it.

Here are a four common resume disasters. There are, of course, many more.

1. The On-and-On-and-On Resume

A Chicago woman sent me a resume that was seven pages long. No matter how fascinating your career might be, no one wants to get seven pages from you. You need to select the best information.

Imagine that basketball great Michael Jordan was writing his resume—not that he needs one! We COULD list every single game he’d ever played and give his statistics from each one. But that would be utterly tedious.

Even the most die-hard basketball fans would be snoozing before they got a quarter of the way through it.

This kind of resume puts employers to sleep.

Instead, Mr. Jordan might write this:

Career Highlights:

  • Six times NBA champion
  • Five times NBA Most Valuable Player
  • Six times NBA Finals MVP
  • NBA Defensive Player of the Year
  • 10 times scoring champion
  • 14 times NBA All-Star

You get the idea real fast, without all the details. Less is often more.

People at the beginning of their careers should usually limit themselves to one  page. People farther along shouldn’t exceed two or three (of course, there are exceptions to any rule).

2. The Slop-Another-Job-On-Top Resume

That resume worked for you a long time ago.  And the next time you looked for work, you added your latest job on top. You repeated that process every time you’ve looked for a job. But that method doesn’t work. It’s important to evaluate and reevaluate yourself as you move through your career. A few things to consider:

  • Your skill set has enhanced/changed. Is that reflected on the resume?
  • How have you responded to changes in technology?
  • What is relevant/not relevant in today’s market or for the job you want?

A client from Kenilworth sent us one of these. He wrote a resume after graduating from college. Even since then, he’s pulled out that same resume and put his latest job on it. It was like a fifty-year-old man walking around in his high school gym clothes.  We fixed that quick so that he looks like a real professional.

3. The Yep-I-Was-There Resume

I’ve seen thousands of resumes, and a large percentage of them focus on duties and responsibilities. They pay little or no attention to what the boss most wants to know: what results do you get? Even a lot of top performers do this, making themselves look bland, ordinary, and even boring.

Remember, your resume is a marketing document. If the boss reading it doesn’t get excited enough to pick up the phone to call you, it isn’t doing its job. The boss is eager to find someone who can help with his/her problems, so show you can cut through problems like a knife through butter. Show the boss that you get results.

I was astounded to see a resume from a client from Highland Park. This man had done mind-boggling work, creating facilities of a size and with features that hadn’t been done before. But it all focused on his duties. Blah blah blah. No wonder no one was getting excited.

4 .The Linger-Forever-in-the-Online-Database Resume

When applying for jobs online, it’s imperative that applicant tracking systems will find what you transmit. Otherwise, your resume will be lost in a sea of bits and bytes, destined to never see the light of day.

Applicant tracking systems are software packages employers use as electronic recruitment tools. Since employers can receive hundreds of applications for a single job posting, it’s impossible to read or even manually scan all of them. They use this software to select the best few—at least, according to the software.

You need to understand the power of keywords, how to use them, formatting that will allow your most critical information to be found by these systems, and much more. Just one example: information that you put into a text box may well be invisible to the applicant tracking system.

A man from Winnetka came to see us after being out of work for eight months. He’d diligently applied to jobs online, but had zero interviews. I doubt any human being ever saw this resume.

NOTE: If all you’re doing in your search is submitting resumes to online postings, you are doing yourself a huge disservice. You’re competing with a huge pool of applicants for jobs that quite often are not the best jobs.

A Poor Resume is a sign of a poor job campaign

While a resume is only about 10% of what it takes to get hired, Still, it is a critical 10%. Do it right. Poor resumes almost always are a sign of a poor job campaign.

Successful executives often decide their job search is too important to do alone. At Lucrative Careers, we’ve helped countless professionals transform their resume from a bland, template-based chronology to a dynamic document that stands out from the competition.

Want us to fix your resume and/or discuss your job search? We’re happy to have a no-obligation phone call.  You can call Steve at 847-673-0339 or Jack at 847 251 4727 or send us a note at Steve@LucrativeCareersInc.com.

Do You Hate Your Job?

A lot of people hate their jobs. There’s no shame in that—as long as you don’t stay. Spending your precious life doing things you hate is bad for your body and mental health. It drags down the people you care about.

Hopefully, you remember a time when you felt passionate about your job. When Monday morning came, you were charged up to go to work.  So what can you do to get it back—or get it for the first time?

A first step is to diagnose the problem and see what’s missing. Make a report card for your job, giving grades (on the scale of A – F) on your satisfaction in these areas.

Money – If you’re not paid what you’re worth, it can make you feel resentful and unmotivated. How happy are you with your compensation package? GRADE ___

Professional development  Is there room for you to grow professionally and build your strengths and skills? Does your company encourage professional development? GRADE _____

Right responsibility – Are you appropriately challenged by your job, or do you find yourself bored? Or are you overwhelmed most of the time? GRADE____

Philosophy of your company/organization – Does the company you work for support your mission? Do they treat people as you would like to be treated? Is the company ethical? GRADE_____

Geography – Do you like the area of the city/country/world where you live and work? Is your commute acceptable? GRADE ____

Strengths – Does your job focus on the things that make you feel invigorated, energized, and focused. It’s hard to feel fulfilled if our job constantly demands that we be something we’re not. GRADE ___


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We Jumpstart Careers  — CALL US TODAY   847-673-0339 (Steve) OR 847-251-4727 (Jack)

Or Contact Us  

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Mission – Do you ever think about why you’re here on this earth? Many people feel they have a calling in life. Often, this stems from a “wound” or negative life experience. John, who grew up poor, loves helping people to develop their own businesses and invest their money wisely. Marco, who grew up being mocked for being Mexican, is a passionate teacher who encourages Latino kids to take pride in their heritage. GRADE____

What’s your passion?- Helping others to learn? Protecting the environment? Creating a healthy work environment? Making computers systems run right? Fighting for social justice? Helping people to be financially secure? Is your work in synch with your calling? GRADE____

Look over the grades. What areas get low grades? Maybe things aren’t as bad as you thought? Or maybe they’re worse.

Are the low grades fixable where you are—or do you need to make a move? For example, the money might be fixed by asking for a raise. The types of responsibilities might be fixed with a transfer to another department.

If they’re not fixable, are you up for making a move? We hope so. Don’t spend any more time than you have to in work that isn’t right for you.

Here are three examples of actual people (minus the real names) we helped:

Changing careers – Jenny was successful in an administrative role, but found her job report card filled mostly with C’s and D’s—and there were no A’s. She decided to stop putting up with it, and got in action. Since she didn’t know what she really wanted to do, she met with us, and we recommended work in sales. Jenny is now selling medical equipment–and loving it.

Changing Companies – Dave thought he wanted to change careers, but as we talked about his situation, Dave realized that there was nothing wrong with his work in IT. The problem was that the work environment at his company was toxic. He decided to find a job at another company–and he’s passionate again.

Staying put–but making changes – Sometimes, people can stay right where they are, but need to make changes. Mark found that the company’s paperwork requirements exhausted him and robbed him of productivity and job satisfaction. We helped him set up conversations with superiors who agreed to form a committee to streamline the paperwork. He also negotiated for administrative help to take some of the work of his plate, freeing him to focus on more important–and enjoyable–things. This radically changed his job and his satisfaction.

Don’t put up with work that is robbing you of your vitality and joy. If you want to have a conversation about your situation, call us: 847 673 0339 or send us a note.

Special Offer: Career Action Plan Meeting Cost: $0

Due to the popularity of our last offer, we’re doing this again.

We are giving away just a few Career Action Plan Meetings. Act Now

Meet with nationally-recognized career coaches Jack Chapman and Steve Frederick–in person or by phone– for a two-hour session to address your career issues. Jack is the author of the popular book, “ Negotiating Your Salary: How to Make $1,000 a Minute.”  These meetings normally cost $225. What’s the catch? There is none–except that maybe you will so benefit from our meeting that you’ll want more. Sort of like when a baker gives away samples of warm chocolate chip cookiesl.

What is a Career Action Plan Meeting?

We will take an in-depth look at your career history to see what you’ve done, what makes you “tick,” and how you’ve made decisions to get where you are today. Then, we’ll zero in on your current situation/dilemma. We’ll get to the root of your career issue(s) and provide a step-by-step plan to fix them.

What issues do we help resolve?

We can help with most any issue that’s in the way of your career satisfaction, including:
  • Unsure of what to do next;
  • Stymied by age discrimination;
  • Wanting to take their career in a new direction;
  • Fed up with being underpaid and underappreciated;
  • Unsure of how to make their retirement fulfilling.

Here’s How to Apply

Send an email to Steve@LucrativeCareersInc.com. With CAP SESSION in the body of the email, briefly describe your career situation and what change(s) would be ideal, as best you know. If you have no idea what you want to do next, just say that. Please also attach your resume. We will review all applications, and award just a few CAP Meetings to those who face difficult situations or ones we find intriguing.  The offer is open to anyone in the US and Canada. Again, we can meet in person or by phone. Everyone who sends us a resume will get a complimentary copy of our publication, The 12 Biggest Mistakes Job Hunters and Career Changers Make–and How to Avoid Them. Questions? Call Steve Frederick at 847-673-0339.

Career Development: Ten Ways to Avoid Getting Fired

Doing a good job doesn’t always mean you’ve got job security. Mark, an executive with a Chicago firm had done a superlative job. But when the company was bought out, the new owners kicked him to the curb.
You can’t count on keeping your job.  That said, there certainly are things you can do to solidify your hold on your position. Here are ten of them.

1) Make Sure You’re Doing What Your Boss Wants  

Seem obvious? Maybe so. But how many people go to work thinking about how they can make the man or woman they work for happy?  That one person often controls whether you will get: ♦ A promotion with a big, fat raise; or ♦ Stagnation; or ♦ A pink slip When was the last time you had a conversation with your boss about what is most important to him/her? Are your efforts aligned with what’s most important?

Are you in synch with the boss’s style?

Is the boss wanting you to be highly autonomous—or does he/she want you to check in frequently? Does your boss prefer face-to-face contact or phone/email? Do you know if your boss will be outraged or very impressed if you decide to make a major decision without consulting him/her? Do you even know the answer to these questions? If not, be sure that you find out.

2) Request feedback — and respond

Be sure to somehow get regular input about how things are going. What needs to be fixed? Make sure you make changes quickly.

3) Don’t be Anonymous

Doing good work is great, but don’t be so wrapped up in your work that you fail to reach out and get to know others in the company. A critical factor in your success is being known and liked. If people perceive you as unfriendly or have no idea who you are, you are vulnerable to being left behind in the promotion and compensation game—and possibly being let go.

4) Make Others Aware of Your Accomplishments

Some people assume that everyone will notice what a good job you’re doing. Don’t bet on it. Most of us, including the boss, pay most attention to pain points—to things that are going wrong. The areas that are going well are often taken for granted. How often do you think about your neck? How often do you think, “My neck is doing a great job! And it’s pain-free!” Maybe never? But when you get a stiff neck or sustain an injury, you suddenly become very aware of your neck. Be sure to keep records of your accomplishments and communicate them to the boss. This justifies keeping you on the payroll and can help get you more money and promotions. One of our clients, a network administrator, learned the hazards of failing to let others know about his work.  One of the company “bean counters,” as he called them, decided that the company could save money by eliminating his position. After all, the network worked flawlessly. After he was let go, the company quickly learned why the network worked so well.

5) Volunteer

Part of being known is to get involved by offering to serve on committees and help with projects that help others outside your immediate sphere know who you are. When you do, let others know about your work and success. You can do this without sounding like a braggert.  You can be informed about what’s happening in the company, and it can get you some great connections. The kind of people who are on these committees and projects are the kind of people who can help in your career.

6) Work hard

People are very aware of who comes in on time or early and stays around after everyone else goes home. They also notice who often comes in late with lame excuses about missing their train, getting a flat tire, or a broken clock radio. In one office where I worked, everyone knew that a certain woman was spending many hours of company time on the phone, planning her wedding.

7) Be Passionate About Learning 

Always be looking to see how you might sharpen your skills. Read. Take training. Listen to webinars. Learn from your co-workers.

8) Make sure you’re using your best skills

If you’re using your left-handed skills (lefties: no offense intended!), it’s tough to be competitive with those who are at their best. Sally excelled in motivational speaking and training, but was reassigned to sales. She can do the job, but she has no passion for it. She will never excel as a sales rep, and wisely chose to do a job search to get her career back on track.

9) Clean Up Messes Promptly

Did you step on someone’s toes? Did you make a mistake? Lose your temper? Take responsibility right away. Don’t leave things to fester. No need to grovel, just be polite and clean things up.

10) Have a Lifeboat Set to Go

Even when you’re doing everything right, there’s no sure thing. It’s more important than ever to have a strong network. Be a part of professional organizations, community groups, etc. Get to know others in your field. Don’t be like Leonardo Dicaprio in the movie, The Titanic, sinking in the icy water when the ship went down. In summary, be aware of your boss and the company as a whole. Be involved and make sure that people know you, your work, and see you as a valuable asset to the team.

Your Job Search: How To Make It Take Longer

Your job search can take much longer than necessary–if you do what the Seattle Mariners once did one day in August 2001. The Mariners had jumped out to a 12-0 lead after just three innings. Doubtless, they relaxed a bit and started to coast. Maybe they started thinking about where they would have dinner or who they would play the next day. The game was over. “Not so fast!” said the Cleveland Indians. They kept chipping away at the Mariners’ lead. They scored three runs in the seventh, added four in the eighth, and then five more in the ninth. Before the Mariners knew what hit them, the game was tied. The Indians won 15-14 in eleven innings.

People start to coast in job search too—and it often costs them.

Our client Dean came to a coaching meeting one day, elated over his good fortune. He’d talked to an old boss who desperately wanted him back. Plus, he’d interviewed with a vice president at one of his target companies. Bam! He’d hit every interview question out of the park. He and this boss really hit it off. After congratulating him on his good progress, I asked him about what else he was doing to further his search. “Nothing. I’m as good as hired. I’m going to take some time off, kick back and wait for the offers to come in.

Continue your job search in earnest

I strongly advised Dean not to take time off, but to continue his search in earnest. But he was confident that his job search was over, and disregarded my advice. Dean, like most of us, would rather stick needles in his eyes than undertake job search activities. So, so if a good excuse to stop presents itself, why not? Unfortunately, a lot of people find that easing up is very expensive. So it was with Dean. It turns out that his former company had recently put in place a new hiring policy. It forbade rehiring someone who had left the company more than once. Dean had two previous stints with the company, and his former boss told him, “Sorry, I didn’t even know about that policy. I can’t hire you.” “No problem,” Dean thought. “The other company will surely hire me.” But as it turned out, an internal candidate applied for the job. Company policy gave preference to the internal candidate. The boss apologized profusely, telling Dean that he liked him much better than the guy he had to hire. An apology and a couple of dollars will get you a cup of coffee.

Starting the job search over

This was a huge letdown for Dean. He said it felt like he had to start at square one again. He wasn’t really, but it sure felt like it.

“Stuff” Happens

Just so you know, this isn’t at all unusual. As they say, “Stuff Happens.” This is especially true in the hiring process. Here are just a few things that can—and do—happen. 1) The employer may find a candidate who she sees as a better fit for the job. 2) Some preferred candidate comes into the picture:  the owner’s nephew or even the boss’s mistress. 3) The economy hits a rough spot or the CFO disappears with a pile of loot, and the hiring budget disappears. 4) Your prospective boss can’t make up his mind, and you’re left dangling in the wind. 5) Many other things are possible. I’m sure you can think of a couple.

Persistence wins the job search game

Don’t do this to yourself. Keep going until you pass the finish line. Instead of being satisfied with one offer, set an ambitious goal. Maybe you could try to get three or four offers. Having a coach or an accountability partner can be very helpful to keep you moving. But whatever you do, don’t go to sleep when success feels within your grasp. You may wind up like the Seattle Mariners. Just common sense? Maybe so. But it’s easy to make common sense mistakes in job search. Want to talk about how you might avoid expensive mistakes? Contact us. 

Salary Negotiations: Avoid This $100K Mistake

Neglect this item when you negotiate salary, and you could lose a pile of cash. Yet, a lot of people never even bring this up during salary negotiations. Learn from what happened to a client we’ll call Michael–and don’t let this happen to you!

Michael gets an amazing offer

Michael jumped when offered an opportunity with a rapidly-growing Chicago firm. In a heartbeat, he left a job that was lucrative and secure and moved halfway across the country to get equity in this company. He had, of course, done his due diligence and found the company to be solid. He pulled the kids out of their circle of friends and headed for Illinois. The new job was fabulous, and Michael immersed himself in the work.

Then things went wrong

For the ten months, the company lived up to his expectations. But things quickly went south. When a competitor’s unethical business practices hit the news, his company was tarred with the same brush, though they’d done nothing wrong. The explosive growth stopped, and soon they were losing money.

Michael gets laid off

One day, Michael was summoned to a conference room and informed that the company was laying off several people—including him. Michael got a grand total of three weeks severance—after moving over 1300 miles to take the job. The company also provided “outplacement” that consisted of a lecture on how to write a resume. Looking back on the experience, Michael says he should have asked for more, but he was in a state of shock.

A long job search

Michael was so devoted to the job and the company, that he hadn’t thought about taking steps to build a network in Chicago. Building a network from scratch was very time consuming, and it took another eight months to land another job. This extended period of unemployment cost Michael well over $100,000 and nearly depleted their savings.

Salary Negotiations Lesson?

Be sure to put severance on the table during salary negotiations. Many people don’t feel comfortable asking about severance, but the alternative is to end up in the same sinking boat that Michael found himself in.

How to negotiate severance?

Here’s the coaching we gave Michael on how to have this conversation when he got the next offer. Michael:  I’m really impressed with this company. It looks like you are in great shape and getting better. The Boss:  Absolutely. We are an outstanding company. It’s a great place for you to build a future.
Michael:  It seems that way to me too, and I’m sure I’ll do a great job for you. But I do have a concern. I don’t imagine that you anticipate a merger, buyout or some other change that might endanger my position, do you? The Boss:  No way. There is nothing like that being discussed. Don’t even think about that. Michael:  I thought as much. So I imagine you won’t object to a severance agreement that would protect me if something unanticipated like that were to actually happen. With our help, Michael got a compensation package that protected his interests: several months of severance, a good outplacement package, and an extension of his medical benefits.

What Should You Ask for During Salary negotiations?

Typically, companies will pay one or two weeks severance for each year of service, outplacement, payment for accrued vacation, and an extension of medical coverage. However, a top executive might negotiate several months severance, particularly when there are special circumstances like Michael’s where he moved a great distance to accept the position.

Finish off Salary Negotiations by Getting It in Writing

Any time salary negotiations extend beyond salary and a standard benefits package, it’s a good idea to protect yourself by getting a written agreement. Should the company official object, tell them something like this, “It often happens that people in the same conversation come away with a different understanding of what was discussed. I’m excited about working here, and it would be a shame to start off badly because we’re not clear about exactly what we’ve agreed to.” Should the boss still refuse, you can the boss a letter summarize your agreement. This letter can be enforced as though it were a contract.

Don’t worry that you’ll sound ungrateful or even desperate

Getting an agreement about severance is smart—and it can save you many thousands of dollars if things change at the company. Want to discuss your career or your negotiations? Contact us today.

Tired of Being a Wimp in Salary Negotiations?

If you’re tired of being underpaid and underappreciated, it’s time to learn some new tactics. Let’s start with laying a solid foundation for negotiations. Obviously, there’s lots more to negotiations than can be explained in a short article, but let’s make a good start. What’s a fundamental rule for gaining true power in any negotiation you become involved in?

Salary Negotiations Fundamental: Be willing to say no.

Granted, sometimes you can’t. Sometimes you REALLY Need that Job. So walking away doesn’t always work. When the bank account is low (or you’re living on credit cards) and you’ve got to pay the mortgage and buy groceries and fix the car and…  You may need to grab onto that job offer, even if it’s far from ideal. Still, many people who aren’t desperate accept job offers they should reject. They ignore a feeling in their gut that something is wrong.

The hiring process and dating

Whether the relationship is a romantic one or an employment relationship, the conflicts that destroy relationships commonly appear right at the very beginning. If the relationship doesn’t begin right, it’s unlikely to get better with time. But too often, we dismiss things when we ought to pay attention. Just as with dating, job interviews and salary negotiations have one thing in common: if the first date is bad, it’s unlikely to turn into a happy marriage. Sure, the man (or woman) showed up for the date two hours late, but you tell yourself there must be a good reason. But usually, it turns out to be a pattern. And it drives you crazy.

My job interview with a corpse

Years ago, I was new in town and needed a job badly. I sent in my application and then called to follow up. The boss, whose name was Herman, answered the phone. “I have your application,” he said, “and if I determine that I would like to talk to you, I will call.” I felt like I was talking to a corpse.

Herman calls for a job interview

A while later, Herman called me in for an interview. I didn’t like the man any better in person. But soon, he called to offer the job. In that same corpse-like voice, he told me what the pay was (not great), and said, “If that’s not enough money, we can stop talking right now.” I thought, “How rude!” But I needed a job, so I swallowed my pride and accepted. Not surprisingly, things with Herman were never good. We never could get on the same page. I left after two months.

Our belief in scarcity sabotages us

Sometimes jobs are in fact scarce, but more often, it’s our belief in scarcity that leads us to take jobs that aren’t right for us. If we’re convinced that it will be really difficult to get another offer, our leverage in negotiations crumbles to dust. We accept jobs that are less than what we deserve and we don’t get fair pay. In dating and employment, people who feel they have no other options tend to get mistreated and are perceived as less attractive.

Jerry Gets An Insulting Offer

Every once in a while, someone calls thinking we have magic that can transform negotiations that are stalled. One of them was a Highland Park executive we’ll call Jerry, who interviewed with a company in the Chicago suburbs. He called saying that although his sterling record of achievement warranted a six figure-offer, the employer sent him an offer letter that was downright insulting—$90,000. Jerry was savvy enough to know that he should negotiate with the hiring decision-maker instead of Human Resources. He requested a face-to-face with Bill, the man who would be his boss. But Bill said, “No can do. I’m very busy for the next couple weeks. All I can spare are a couple minutes on the phone.” Bill wouldn’t budge on the salary, so Jerry tried to negotiate for another week of vacation. No. Travel allowance? No. Paying for some training? No. Bill said no to everything Jerry asked for. On top of that, he told Jerry that he had to decide no later than 5:00 that day.

Looking for magic in salary negotiations 

Jerry called to seek coaching in the negotiations. Surely, he said, there are some magic words that can make the negotiations turn in his favor. Many times, we can provide magic phrases and make negotiations go spectacularly well, but not always. Jerry had played his cards well, but Bill didn’t want to be fair. Bill didn’t want to negotiate. Maybe he sensed that Jerry wouldn’t turn down the job. We gave Jerry what we believed was the best advice: reject the offer. But Jerry didn’t want didn’t want to hear this and accepted Bill’s insulting offer. We wish Jerry the best, but believe he will regret this decision.

Pay Attention to Signals In Salary Negotiations

Of course, you should be on your best behavior during the job interview/salary negotiations process, and the employer should too. They should want to make you want to come on board. But Bill lowballed Jerry, wasn’t willing to make time to meet with a high-level employee, wouldn’t budge on anything, and he demanded a response that day. In short, he was disrespectful. Though we advised Jerry to decline the offer, he decided to take it. We think he made a big mistake. We think Bill’s disrespectful treatment will not only continue, but will get worse. Trust your gut reactions. If it feels like the employer is being disrespectful, they probably are. Sometimes, we need to take a job. Any job. If that’s you, then take the offer. If that’s not you, be willing to say no. That’s a short lesson on salary negotiations. If you’re hungry for more, pick up Jack Chapman’s book on Salary Negotiations.  Jack is also available for personal salary coaching.

How To Actually Enjoy Networking Events

Hate Networking Events? You’re Not Alone

Do you have to drag yourself to networking events? Do you find yourself awkwardly nursing a drink or staking out the food table, wishing you were somewhere else? But you force yourself to stay because managing these events well is crucial to get hired or build your business.

Fortunately, there are some high-quality resources available to help you build your skills. Just one of these is Debra Fine’s “The Fine Art of Small Talk,” available both as a book and a recording.

Using her advice, you can enjoy networking events. Really.  Here are a few samples of her advice.


Prepare For Networking Events

Brainstorm before networking events to come up with three or more topics you can use to initiate conversation or to pick things up when conversation drags. Topics might include films and TV shows, current events, and happenings in your community.

How to Get The Other Person Talking

Be sure to go after more information, digging deeper into what people tell you. These phrases can help to develop memorable conversations:

  • Tell me more.
  • How did that happen?
  • What led you to do that?
  • Is that something I can do?

Networking Event Key: Use open-ended questions

Open-ended questions like these are more likely to get people talking.
What made you move to Kenilworth?
How did you get started into your current job?
What do you see as the biggest obstacles to success in your industry?

Closed questions get short answers.

Is your company located in Winnetka?
Do you live here in Highland Park?
Do you read the Wall Street Journal?
What’s your sign?

Not only are closed questions unlikely to develop good conversations, but asking too many closed questions can make the other person feel uncomfortable. They might even feel interrogated and wonder if you’re with the FBI.

Networking Event Strategy: Use Free Information 

We often can get what she calls “free information” from others through their appearance, words, and behavior. Grab onto this free information and use it to open up great conversations.

1) Words 

Many times, people tell us things that provide an opening to find out about them:

  • When we moved to Winnetka …
  • When I left my position at Chicago Faucet in Des Plaines …
  • Because I grew up on Chicago’s south side, I know …

Ask questions about this free information to develop conversations:

  • What made you move to Winnetka?
  • What do you think of the corporate culture at Chicago Faucet?
  •  Did you enjoy living on the south side?

Want to talk to us about your career advancement? 


2) Appearance

If you’re living in cold-winter places like Chicago or Milwaukee and you run across someone with a suntan in the middle of January, chances are they’ve taken a trip somewhere interesting—or at least know of a good tanning facility. Ask them about it.

At a small networking event, a man had a cast on his leg. When someone asked what happened, he said it was a skiing accident. This helped everyone in the room to get to know him better and generated some good-natured ribbing that got everyone laughing.

You might ask a woman wearing a distinctive piece of jewelry about where it came from and how she happened to find it.

3) Behavior–When you encounter a woman whose accent isn’t local, you might ask why she came to the United States or what part of the country she is from.

You might ask why she moved to the US

You might ask a woman who is left handed what issues come up with being a lefty.
If you see a man wearing a Chicago Cubs tie or lapel pin, you might ask about the first Cubs game he attended or who is his favorite Chicago player.

4) Occasion/Location-Questions about the event you’re or the spot of your encounter.

At a seminar: What led you to sign up for this seminar?
At an association meeting: How did you come to choose this field?
At a political rally: What led you to support this candidate?
At Joe’s birthday party: How do you know Joe?


At Networking Events: Don’t Create Awkwardness
Ms. Fine also advises keeping questions with acquaintances more general to avoid blundering into uncomfortable situations.

If you see John once or twice a year, don’t ask him, “How is that great job at Grainger in Lake Forest going?” He may have been demoted or fired since you last saw him. Instead, ask him, “How’s work going?” That way, he can tell you whatever he wants.

Similarly, don’t ask Sally, “How’s that gorgeous husband of yours?” Maybe he left her. You’re just an acquaintance. She doesn’t want to discuss her marital trauma with you. So instead, ask her something like, “What’s new with the family?” Again, this gives Sally the chance to share whatever she wants, without having to delve into painful issues.

Interested in Debra Fine’s book? 

Develop Your Networking Event Skills

I encourage you to equip yourself with these powerful tools Ms. Fine discusses. They can turn awful networking events into enjoyable ones and help you create relationships that can last for years. Getting hired, staying employed, getting new business, and being promoted are all about chemistry.

If you’re ready to move up or go in another direction in your career, don’t waste another day. Let’s talk. Call 847-673-0339 or send us a note.  — Steve Frederick and Jack Chapman 



4 Signs You’re About to Be Fired–And What to Do About It

Are you about to be fired?

Sometimes, people have no idea. One day, Bill was summoned to the conference room. There, a woman from Human Resources met with him to let him know he was being let go.

Bill, like a lot of people we’ve worked with, was devastated when this happened. He said there was no warning, but after he thought about it for a while, he recognized signs that should have alerted him to what was coming.

Don’t be taken by surprise.  Read this, recognize the warning signs, and take action.

.1) Sign You Might be Fired: Anger and Lack of Motivation


One of our Kenilworth clients, Dana, was the go-to-person in her department. She loved her job and the heavy responsibility she shouldered, but then a new boss assigned her to work that was well below her capabilities. She was suddenly bored—and upset.

Unfortunately, she chose to go along and pretend that all was well. But people around her weren’t fooled. They knew she was seething about the change in her job. We’ve found that a lot of people who despise their jobs believe—wrongly—that they are successfully hiding their feelings.

2) Sign You Might Be Fired: Stagnant/No Promotions / Maybe Even Demotions

Brian was a close confidant of the COO, and had a lot of clout in his company, located in Winnetka, IL. But that changed after the COO hired a manager named Martha. Suddenly, Martha was being asked for her opinion, rather than Brian. He overruled Brian on three critical matters on which he’d almost always taken Brian’s advice. When the boss delegated some important new responsibilities, Brian expected to get them. Instead, they went to Martha. Brian didn’t realize it yet, but he had effectively been demoted. This made him vulnerable.

Brian likes to be a good guy and went along without making a fuss. He didn’t read the handwriting on the wall and start looking for a new job—until the axe fell.

3) Sign You Might be Fired: Out of the Loop

A Chicago client, Anne, started to notice that she was the last to hear about important goings on in the office. She found out after the fact about a coup

Ann found hefself out of the loop

le of important strategy meetings. When she asked why she wasn’t told about them, she got the rather lame excuse that a low-level secretary had neglected to extend the invitation. She also found it difficult to get face time with her boss, who had nearly always had an open door for her.


4) Sign You Might Be Fired:  Relationship Inexplicably Improves

An Evanston client, Matt, frequently found he wasn’t on the same page with his CFO, Henry. They disagreed on priorities and Matt disliked Henry’s management style. Their conversations were cool and tense. Twice, their discussions exploded into bitter arguments. Working together was a strain—until suddenly, it wasn’t Things were all right. Henry was even pleasant. It was a great relief—until he got the notice he was being cut loose. Matt shouldn’t have been surprised. Knowing that Matt would soon be out of his hair made it easier for Henry to tolerate him.

Beware if you are suddenly treated much better—or worse. Ask yourself: if my boss was aware that I would be let go, would the changed in behavior make sense?

Is this happening to you? Be in action—NOW!

Here are four proactive steps you might take:

1) Put Your Cards on the Table

Depending on your relationship, you might just say, “Look, I can tell things aren’t working with us. Might we talk about how I can move on?” Sometimes, you can either negotiate a severance package and/or get time to find another position without having to sneak around.

2) Prepare for a job search

Get your resume up to date, fix your LinkedIn profile (most people have boring profiles), and figure out what’s next for you. Assistance from a career coach can help you hit the ground running. This is not a time for blundering around in the job market. Make the time and effort you expend count.

3) Get out of the office, if you can

If your job allows, find activities outside the office. You’ll need to have a schedule with some flexibility and freedom to be out of the office for networking meetings and job interviews.

4) Talk to an attorney

If there’s any reason to believe you’ve been discriminated against because of age, race, creed, color, gender, etc., you may have a case for legal action. You may or may not want to actually sue your employer, but the threat of a lawsuit can give you more power in negotiating a way out.

Don’t wait for that pink slip

Be in action today!

If you’re afraid you might be let go—let’s talk. Call us at 847-673-0339.