Signs You May Get Fired Soon

Many of our clients who have been fired say they were totally blindsided. But as they looked back, they realized they shouldn’t have been. The signs were there …

Need Assistance To Avoid This Problem? Let’s talk.  (847) 673-0339


Six Ways College Grads Botch Job Searches

It was so exciting to see your child walk across the stage wearing a cap and gown, but months have gone by and he/she is still looking for a decent job. What’s going on?

Former clients have sent us their recent college grads for help with jump-starting their careers. After all, some universities don’t provide much help to graduates transition to the work world. 

These are a few of the mistakes we’ve seen from the grads we’ve talked to.

1) Lack of Clarity About Their Skills and Contributions.  
I’ve seen many grads who have managed to make outstanding college years look dull and listless. 

Randy’s Resume Focused on the Wrong Things
“Randy” from Winnetka wrote much more about his job waiting tables at a pizza joint than he did about his outstanding work mobilizing students. When legislation detrimental to students was introduced in the statehouse, Randy acted like Paul Revere. He alerted everyone he knew and used social media to orchestrate a lobbying campaign that took the legislature by surprise. Legislators were impressed with the huge response from students, and the bill didn’t make it out of committee.  

Sarah Learned Not to Brag
Humility was a virtue at her home when Sarah was growing up. But it didn’t serve her well when she moved back home to Wilmette and started looking for work. She chose not to put her 4.0 GPA and her membership in a prestigious academic sorority on her resume because she thought that would look boastful. She never thought to mention the in-depth research she did for one of her professors—for which she received accolades.

Employers didn’t realize how good Randy and Sarah were. Consequently, they were hired into jobs that were beneath their abilities. Randy got fired because he was so bored. Sarah put up with it, but she’s wasn’t going to get a promotion. She showed little enthusiasm. 

2) Confusion About How the Job Market Works
“Ryan” returned home to Kenilworth eager to start his job search. He believed what many people do: hiring gets done to fill openings and vacancies. Consequently, he spent his time looking at the job openings listed online.

Of course, the truth is that hiring decision makers bring in talent because they want to get ahead in their own careers. They do  about the company, but they also want to look good, get noticed, and be seen as someone who can take on bigger responsibilities and deserves a raise. Sometimes, they are filling an opening, but often they are not.

We taught Ryan how to communicate about his experience in terms the boss wants to hear: cutting costs, creating efficiency, keeping customers satisfied, and getting favorable social media attention.

3) No clear goals
“Sandra” wasn’t sure what she wanted to do. She knew that she liked certain classes, but wasn’t sure what jobs would fit with her interests. She had some conversations with her parents’ friends in Glenview, but the conversations were unfocused and frustrating for both her and the friends.

4) No marketing plan
Even if she’d had a focus, “Sandra” had no marketing plan. She didn’t know what kinds of people she’d want to work for, how to reach them, or what to say to them. So, like Ryan, she spent her job hunting time sending resumes to online postings. She said it was much easier than going out and talking to people. That may be, but the easy way is not always effective.

We helped her to develop and execute a plan that got her in to speak directly to the hiring decision makers–and it wasn’t nearly as stressful as she’d feared.

5) Letting Their Networks Wither and Die 
“Randy” attended school close to his Glencoe home, at Northwestern University. He developed solid relationships with his professors, supervisors, alumni of his fraternity, and people he’d interfaced with in his internships and volunteer experience. Plus, he knew a lot of his parents’ friends. Many of these people would have been more than happy to help him in his search and to expand his network. He didn’t talk to any of the people because he felt like he would be “using them.” He had chosen to go it alone—with very negative results. Instead of building a vital network, he was letting his wither and die.

6) Neglecting LinkedIn
“Sam” loved social media, and he was really good at it. But he didn’t pay much attention to LinkedIn. He went through the motions of setting up a profile. He uploaded a (bad) picture of himself, wrote an uninspiring headline, didn’t bother to create a summary section, and only listed position, company, and dates in the experience section. Further, he wasn’t using it as a tool to find people in companies in which he wanted to work.

By addressing these issues (and some others), these grads transformed their searches and laid the foundation for a successful career.

Finding it painful to see your grad struggling? Let’s talk.  847 673 0339


Eight Things You Need To Know About Recruiters / Don’t Waste Their Time—And Yours!

Executive recruiters can be great allies in a job search. However, those who choose to rely on them often find they wasted a lot of time in their job search. It’s important to understand who recruiters are and how they work so that you can have a mutually-beneficial relationship.

1) Understand That They Aren’t Working For You

A recruiter might be a great human being and care deeply about matching you with a good job. But you need to know that recruiters get paid by the company, not you. That’s a good thing for your bank account, but it also means their ultimate responsibility is to the company who pays the fees, not to you. Sure, good recruiters strive to make everybody happy. But most of the time, they will not actively market you. If they can match you with a job order from a company, they’ll do that. But they won’t be looking out for you beyond that. The exception is when someone has a rare skill set for which there is a big demand.

2) Find Out if You’re a Viable Candidate

Companies pay executive recruiters a hefty fee, somewhere around a fifth to a third of the candidate’s salary in their first year on the job. Companies only part with that kind of dough for people with very specific skills and backgrounds. They usually want top performers who have a stable work history in their industry. They’re looking for a tiny percentage of the available candidates, which means most of us are not what they’re looking for.

Don’t get me wrong. This doesn’t mean that you’re not talented or that you’re not a great employee. There may well be lots of employers who would love to hire you. But recruiters may not be the vehicle that will take you to that great job.

Here’s a quick example to illustrate. A client from Glencoe (we’ll call him James) was an outstanding executive—a true top performer. But he was laid off when the bottom dropped out of the market in his industry. He decided to change industries, and was confident that recruiters would find him a great job as they had in the past. James spent ten weeks waiting around for calls from recruiters. Those calls never came. Finally, he got one of the recruiters on the phone to ask why no one was presenting him. The recruiter said, “You don’t have any experience in this industry. I would lose credibility with my client companies if I presented you.” James wised up, found a career coach to learn how to approach employers directly, and soon was hired into another great job.

Do include recruiters in your job search plan, assuming they see you as a qualified candidate. Research to find the best recruiters.

3) Don’t Treat Your Recruiter Like a Career Coach

If you’re confused about what to do next in your career, don’t talk to a recruiter about it. Sure, some recruiters will help you because they’re good people, but as I’ve said, it’s not their job to resolve your career issues. Their job is to find highly-qualified candidates who are eager to help them fill job orders.

Generally speaking, if you need coaching on your resume, LinkedIn profile, or verbal presentation, you should use a career coach. Some recruiters do help with these things, but you’re usually better off having a coach who is responsible to you.

4) Be aware that there are different kinds of recruiters.

All recruiters are not alike.

Employers hire Retained Recruiters to find top candidates. These recruiters are guaranteed payment for finding candidates. They generally deal with searches in the $100,000 to $500,000 and up range.

A Contingency Recruiter generally works with searches for positions ranging from $50,000 to $100,000 range. Their compensation is not assured. They may put in a lot of hard work and walk away with nothing for their efforts because employers only pay them if and when they hire a candidate that recruiter has presented.

While contingency recruiters can be very helpful, there are pitfalls. First, you don’t want to get caught in a tug of war between two or (shudder) more than two contingency recruiters, with each claiming the fee for hiring you. A client from Highland Park lost a job because of a very ugly and unprofessional spat between two recruiters who both claimed her. The employer decided to steer clear and hired someone else.

If you’re after a job at a larger company, the fee paid to the contingency recruiter will generally not impact the hiring budget. But, if you’re talking to a small- or medium-sized company, being represented by a contingency recruiter may put you at a disadvantage. The employer may think, “If I hire a candidate who found me without using a recruiter, I can save that big recruiter fee.”

What does this mean for you? Be sure to ask if the recruiter is working on a retained or contingency basis. Some recruiters do both retained and contingency. If you find the recruiter is working on a contingency basis, be clear about which positions you’ve found on your own and which the recruiter has found on your behalf.

A third type of recruiter works in staffing companies. Their job is not to find the cream of the crop, but rather to find people who are good, competent workers. IT is just one area where these recruiters often work. They’ll hire when a company wants a number of workers for a few months or so.

Lastly, corporate recruiters work to find employees to present for internal jobs within the company where they work.

5) Be sure your self-preparation is top notch.

You can’t rely on the recruiter to do it all for you. You have to first impress the recruiter and then the employer. If you can’t speak powerfully about yourself or your resume is mediocre, you’re not going to get the job.

6) Introduce yourself

It’s helpful to make a crisp introduction by phone that will make a clear and memorable impression. Since they get a lot of phone calls, be patient and persistent to get through. When you reach the recruiter, ask what kind of interactions they prefer. You don’t want to be a pest, but the recruiter may appreciate a call every so often to let him/her know you’re still looking.

7) LinkedIn Deserves Special Attention

LinkedIn has become the recruiter’s bread and butter. Many spend much of their day searching for candidates on LinkedIn. If you don’t have a great profile, you’ll get passed over. Cutting and pasting your resume into LinkedIn is just not good practice. You should spend twice as much time crafting your LinkedIn profile as you did for your resume. If you don’t know what you’re doing, hire someone who does.

8) Be Your Own Recruiter

A job search is too important to delegate to recruiters—unless you’re happily employed, but open to new opportunities. You must be in the driver’s seat in your search. Talk to recruiters and get their help, but don’t rely on them. You should be your own recruiter, beating the bushes for opportunities with an effective networking campaign. This is especially the case in a tight job market when employers find top candidates knocking on their doors without having to pay recruiters.

Don’t neglect direct approaches to hiring decision makers, direct mail approaches, networking approaches, ads, postings, and so on. Think about where you would like to work and connect with people at those companies. This is a better approach than waiting for a recruiter to contact you, and hoping you’ll like the company who is hiring. You can also tap into the hidden job market—finding opportunities before they are advertised and those that never will be.

An anecdote from one of our clients

A client from Evanston recently struck gold in the hidden job market while networking with a vice president at a large corporation in his area. The VP spotted some experience on our client’s resume that intrigued him. In a recent job, our client had managed a certain type of program. The VP said, “We’ve never had a program like that here. I think it would be a great idea. Do you think you could start one?”

Our client gave an enthusiastic, “yes!” There was zero competition for that job.

Take responsibility for your own job search. What happens to you and your career is much more important to you than to someone else.

Steve Frederick and Jack Chapman have been helping people find fulfilling work with great compensation for over 20 years. Call us 847-673-0339 or send an EMAIL 

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.

Age Discrimination in Hiring: Are You Making It Worse?

These days, age discrimination is rampant. Many successful executives struggle to find decent jobs. While age discrimination is very real, many times, older executives can make the problem much worse than it has to be. They neglect job search fundamentals.

How about you? Are you doing the fundamentals right?  For some of you, this article might seem elementary. But we see seasoned executives neglecting these fundamentals all the time. 

Focusing on Online Job Postings

A lot of people spend countless
hours responding to online job postings because it’s easier than getting out in
the trenches and networking.  

Given that many employers
are screening out older workers, it makes sense to use the best strategy and
tactics to overcome this. Studies repeatedly show that most people get their
jobs from personal connections. So, go with the percentages. Spend 80-90% of
job search time in a person-to-person campaign.

In-person meetings provide better opportunities to make a case for yourself-and to discuss how you produce more value than a younger worker does. 

Retched Resume
A woman from Winnetka complained that she had applied to over 100 jobs online without a single interview. She was indignant about the age discrimination she was experiencing.

But chances are that no one was discriminating against her. She was applying for the same job that dozens (or maybe hundreds) of others were seeking. Her resume didn’t have the “right stuff” to be found by the Applicant Tracking System (ATS), the software that many employers use to screen resumes. It was likely that no human being ever saw her resume.

The ATS pulled out
several candidates who were interviewed; the rest languished in the “dungeon”
of the company database.

Her resume was the unremarkable kind we often see. No accomplishments. Lots of trite phrases and job hunting jargon. Old fashioned format. No attention to keywords and other ATS issues. Should the ATS ever find this resume, it would not get even a second glance from an employer.

Lifeless LinkedIn profiles
“Joe,” a CFO from Highland Park, committed the job hunting “sin” that is common with people of all ages. He didn’t take advantage of LinkedIn as a marketing tool. Some don’t have a profile at all. Others have nothing more than their titles, companies, and dates of employment. Still others have written more, but their copy is dull and lifeless. They say they are “problem solvers,” just like millions of others. They top it off with a poor-quality photo, don’t ask for recommendations, and don’t pay any attention to keywords. It all adds up to a lost opportunity to advance the job search.

Inarticulate Verbal Presentation
Can you tell a networking contact or an employer how you provide value for a company? No? That’s going to hurt you.

Why would anyone refer you to a trusted associate if you’re not able to do this? Or if you can’t clearly describe your accomplishments — that’s a problem. Employers crave candidates who can make them feel confident that their problems are solved.

Inept Networking
You’ve been around the block a few times and understand that networking is the key to getting hired, but somehow, your networking isn’t getting you anywhere. 

It’s critical to have a
marketing plan. Do you know which companies you’d like to work for? Do you know
who at those companies you need to talk to get hired? Do you have a plan for
getting in to talk to those people? Supposing you do get into their offices, do
you know what you will say to them?

One key part of making a good impression is treating networking like a two-way street. Think about what you can do for the other person, either now or in the future.

What ARE you wearing?
That suit served you well twelve years ago, but these days, it’s looking a bit frumpy. That tie … sure, you like it, but no one is wearing those any more. Women: same theme, different details.

Be sure you look sharp and up to date. Think about this at networking meetings as well. We are living in times when casual dress is much more acceptable, but don’t get too casual. Be sure you make a good impression when you go out in public.

Neglecting the details can kill you. A while ago, I met with a client from Kenilworth to prep him just before his job interview. He looked great. The suit, the shirt, the tie all worked. But he smelled! His suit had been in storage and it just reeked. His sense of smell wasn’t the best, so he hadn’t noticed. I sent him rushing home to change.

BIG Interview, No

One of our clients had a big interview coming up with a company in Evanston. When we suggested that she prepare, she said, “I’m good at interviewing. I don’t need to prepare for the interview coming up in a couple of days.” Yes, you do!

Age discrimination is real, so don’t compound the problem by neglecting sound job search fundamentals.

Want to find out if the fundamentals are killing your search–and how to fix them? Call us at 847-673-0339

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.

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 



Job Interview Tip: How to Turn Rejection To Opportunity

That Job interview was so promising. Then you get the rejection note.

You had great rapport. The conversation was stimulating. You were excited. You were as good as hired. And then they said no?

What now?


Then you got that rejection note….

Of course, it’s terribly disappointing. You might be tempted to get mad and scream at the employer (in the privacy of your home, of course).

Vent if you must, but then, get smart.

One of the three things that win job interviews is good human relations (the other two are enthusiasm and clear communications). Use your good human relations to your advantage to turn this situation around.


Job Interview Success and Human Relations

Since empathy is a key to good human relations, think about what’s going on with the boss. You had good rapport. She liked you and saw you as a good candidate. But apparently, someone she liked better came along. Or she was forced to hire her boss’s nephew. Or it may have been a toss-up between you and another candidate. Chances are, she feels awful about having to reject you.

Overcome the awkwardness after the job interview

Since she rejected you, there is awkwardness. It’s like when you go on a date and tell the person you don’t want to go out with him/her again. It’s hard to face them. If you see them on the street or in an elevator, it would be awkward. There’s been a breakdown in the relationship.

Smart job hunters know that it’s important to address and heal this awkwardness. How do you do that?

Send a letter of appreciation

As you know, the good old-fashioned thank you note is much appreciated, but a very small percentage of candidates send one. This is a big mistake. Thank you notes give you the chance to stand out from the crowd. Let the boss know that you appreciate that she took time out of her day to meet with you. Hopefully, you did that already.

All right, but you’ve already been rejected, so what now? Send a note of appreciation. Let her know that you understand that she picked the person that seemed best for the job. Give your best wishes both to her and to the candidate who got the job.

As I’ve said, few people bother to send a thank you note after the interview. Almost no one thanks the boss after being rejected. If you do, you will probably be the only one.

Now, take this further.

Contact the boss and ask if you might add him to your network. Not just your LinkedIn network. Many of us have thousands of LinkedIn connections, including people from other continents who we will never meet in this lifetime. We add people, and they just sit there in our list of connections and rot.

Try to make them part of your real network, and stay in touch.

Ask if you might meet the boss for networking

If he’s willing, draw on the boss’s knowledge of what’s going on in his company, in the industry, with vendors, and their customers. He may well be able to refer you to others in his company or to people he knows in other companies. The boss can give a boost to your efforts to build your visibility and credibility and meet the people who can hire you.

Remember that in the job hunt, you are planting seeds when you make connections. You never know when they may sprout.

Ask if you can meet with the boss on a networking basis

Sometimes, the results are quick. The candidate who seemed like the best person for the job doesn’t work out. One client from Winnetka got hired within weeks of being rejected. The candidate they hired received another offer a month after starting the new job. When he abruptly quit, the boss called our client.

Other times, the seed may sprout many months or years later—if you keep in touch. A client from Glenview stayed in touch with an executive with whom he’d had good rapport in an interview and got hired three years later.

It’s a small world. You never know when someone you interview with will resurface. Make sure you make the most of each and every contact.

Contact us about our job interview coaching. We’ll help you get in the driver’s seat in your next interview.

Be Your Own Executive Resume Writer? Huge Mistake (usually)

Some people say, “never hire an executive resume writer. Why pay someone? You can do yourself! It’s your resume. How can someone else to write it?”

But is that good advice? That depends …

During my many years as an executive resume writer and career coach, I’ve seen a few people who wrote fabulous resumes for themselves. A CFO client from Glencoe did a fabulous job on his resume—and got it all on one page!  I was impressed.

But I’ve seen many, many more truly awful resumes come from do-it-yourself writers. Being frugal is fine, but not at the cost of making a poor impression.

 You MAY want to be your own resume writer if: 

  •  You’re a good writer and you understand how to craft a resume.
  • You want to save some money and that money is more valuable to you than the time you could be spending on other aspects of your job campaign.

But don’t deceive yourself. Writing your own resume is tricky. Here are nine reasons why you might want to let an executive resume writer do it for you.

BTW, if you’re already thinking that you need some help–we’re glad to provide assistance. See our resume page.

1) You may not understand the technical aspects of ATS

A human being might think your professional resume is the greatest ever written, but the Applicant Tracking System (ATS) may not recognize that you exist (Applicant Tracking System refers to software many companies use to screen resumes and help with other aspects of the hiring process).

You may languish in the bowels of an electronic database because your resume doesn’t have the right keywords and/or formatting to be chosen as a viable candidate for the position for which you applied.

2) You aren’t a talented writer

Writing isn’t your strong suit. Fine. We often hire other professionals to do work in areas where we’re not skilled. Most of us would rather have a mechanic fix the transmission on our car and a plumber repair a hard-to-reach pipe.

Why waste a lot of your precious time creating a resume that won’t make you look good?

3)  You don’t want to brag, and you’re not feeling so good about yourself

The boss just yelled at you—again. You fear your head is on the boss’s chopping block. Or you just landed in the corporate dung heap. You’re not feeling real good about yourself at the moment. So how in the world are you going to write a great resume?

To make things more difficult, your dad told you never to brag.  Your boss insisted that you talk about the team “we,” rather than the individual “I.” It’s tough to undo that teaching and actually take credit for your great work.Don’t grab credit for something someone else did, but DO describe how you contributed to a team effort.

When a football team scores a touchdown, eleven players contribute to the effort. The running back makes a great fake, the quarterback heaves an accurate forty-yard strike, the tight end grabs the ball and hangs on as he’s belted by the safety. All the while, the offensive linemen kept the quarterback safe from the 300-pound monsters trying to smash him.

Tell what you did to make the team successful.

4) You can’t tell a good resume from a mediocre (or awful) one

Libraries and bookstores are full of wretched resume books (and a few that are good). The wretched resume books, some of which sell quite well, are responsible for many of the awful resumes used in unproductive job searches.

5) You’ve been busy DOING great things, not describing them.

Many people have spent years doing great work without ever stopping to think about how to talk about what they did. I’ve talked to many senior executives who have amazing stories to tell, but you’d never know it by listening to them talk. You read between the lines and know the great resume material is there.

A good career professional can help to flesh this out.

When a client showed the resume we developed to his wife, she exclaimed, “I finally understand what you do!” He’d never been able to tell her clearly.

6) Not digging deep enough.

This common mistake is related to #4. Many executives just scratch the surface of their accomplishments.

I talked to a man who had managed an investment portfolio worth many millions. He thought people would be impressed by the size of the portfolio. Maybe so. But when I probed to find out how his portfolio performed, his accomplishment was much more impressive.

Digging deep is the difference between making an OK impression and having a boss salivating to talk to you.

7) Using too much technical jargon

Pity the poor Human Resources person (and other non-technical folks in your search) trying to decipher resumes using all sorts of technical terms they don’t comprehend. Actually, pity you, if you sent the resume to them. They will probably throw it away.

If your audience doesn’t have a clue about what you’re talking about or why they should care, that’s a problem.  Writing in language the average person can understand can help to open doors. This is especially true because of the importance of communicating across disciplines in today’s work world. If your resume doesn’t show you can do this, you may get passed over.

8) Resume writing can be extremely time-consuming

I’ve seen people spend many weeks and months futzing around with their resume. This is extremely expensive. I myself have hired people to write mine. I can whip out someone else’s resume really quickly, but find it excruciating to do my own. I made a decision that my time was worth more than the expense of hiring a colleague.

This brings up another issue. People often keep working and reworking their resume because it’s easier than doing scary things like talking to strangers. At a certain point, you have to say, this resume is good enough. I’m going to declare it done and move on.

9) A good resume professional can improve how you speak about yourself

If your resume stinks, chances are very good that the way you speak about yourself stinks too. But how do you know?

People you encounter in job search tend to be polite. They don’t tell you that they have no idea about what you want to do. They won’t tell you they don’t understand what you did on your last job. They smile at you, say it was nice to meet you, and they’re done with you. It’s hard to get honest feedback. Consequently, you can burn through lots of contacts and waste weeks and months spinning your wheels.

With other do-it-yourself projects, you get quick feedback. Years ago, when I tried to plaster a ceiling, most of the plaster fell to the floor and what stuck looked awful. I knew right away that what I was doing wasn’t working.

A bad resume won’t give you that kind of useful feedback.

Don’t be like this man!

A man we met with recently said that for months, he had been applying online to four or five jobs every single day. Zero interviews. Not one. His resume didn’t have the right stuff to get past the software filters most companies use, and even if it did, it was so unimpressive that it would quickly get tossed in the trash. That kind on ineffectiveness is mighty expensive when you’re unemployed– and exasperating when you are.

In summary, some people do very well writing their own resume. However, many more fall victim to the pitfalls mentioned in this article (and more!). If you do decide to write your own resume, be sure to get feedback from someone knowledgeable so you know you’re on track. If you do hire a resume professional, be sure to choose wisely. After all, there are companies who love to prey on the unemployed. Resume writer and LinkedIn profile writer scams are common.

–BTW, the resume is only about ten percent of what it takes to get hired.  Make sure you’re doing the other things right too. Call me if you want to talk:  847 673 0339.