cover letter, Chicagoland career consultant, Chicago careers, job search, resume

How to Show Your Personality in a Cover Letter – and How Not To

If you’re applying for a new position, the cover letter is an essential part of your application, however it’s all too easy to make a fundamental error when drawing one up. Without one, you are unlikely to be considered for the job, but if you get it wrong you could also end up with your application being thrown in the trash. Here, we look at some top tips so that you can create the perfect cover letter that shows your personality, but which also makes you look like the sort of professional that your dream company would love to hire.


Why Show Your Personality In Your Cover Letter?

Some people prefer to keep their cover letter simple and basic, however this is a risky strategy, and failing to show a little more of yourself can end up doing your more harm than good. Although you would be limiting the risks of accidentally including something which made you look unprofessional or bad, a bland cover letter is a missed opportunity to potentially reach your goals.


Remember that the entire purpose of a cover letter is to introduce yourself in bite-size form to the recruitment team. Playing it too safe will result in a cover letter which merely states the obvious and won’t allow you to create the memorable impression which will have the recruitment manager on the phone inviting you to attend an interview. The more forgettable your application letter, the less likely it is that you’ll be snagging that dream job. That’s why adding some personality without going overboard is the best way to attract the attention of the recruitment team in the right way.


Does My Letter Sound Rude?

While you’d probably never be deliberately rude or obnoxious in your cover letter, sometimes applications can end up sounding that way accidentally when applicants try too hard to lighten up the tone of the letter. In general, avoid making any assumptions about the person who will be reading your letter, and never use those immortal words “you and I know”. That just sounds like you’re talking down to the hiring manager and will probably end up getting your letter put in the trash.


Am I Giving The Right Information?

When you’ve written your letter, read it back through and just check that what you’ve written actually does inject personality into your application. Often, if you stick to the tried and tested, trite lines you aren’t actually saying anything relevant or informative about the person that you really are. Think of what you would actually say to a new acquaintance and eliminate anything which sounds superfluous and which you would never actually share in person.


How Can I Highlight My Skills?

Even though you’re trying to inject personality into your cover letter, you need to make sure that you’re not cheating yourself of the chance to show just what you have achieved and what you can offer their company. In fact, the elements of character that you are adding to the text should actually strengthen your description of your skills rather than detracting from them. Try to merge the two things seamlessly by explaining how your skills and experience carry over into your hobbies and interests, or how those leisure pursuits contribute to your professional abilities.



Never Forget To Meet The Basic Requirements


resume, cover letter, job search, career consultant


No matter how hard you’re trying to impress through your unique approach to characterful letter writing, it’s important to remember to never forget to meet the basic requirements of any cover letter. For a start, it would be a huge error to forget to mention the ways in which you are the perfect fit for the vacant position, or to forget to check for spelling mistakes and grammatical errors.


No matter how you want to express yourself in your own individual way, always make sure you follow the conventions of cover letter writing, including tailoring your letter to the job which you are applying for, using correct punctuation, grammar and spelling and always proofreading before you send. Without these simple basics, no matter how interesting and engaging your letter, you will most likely not be considered at all due to lack of professionalism.


What You Should Include

Now that we’ve looked at all the things that you shouldn’t include, let’s look at a few things that you should make sure to add into your letter to have the best possible chance of success.


Give Some Examples

One error that many people make is to simply go back over the ground that they covered in their CV. That’s a waste of time and energy. Instead, you should not only state clearly what your expertise and skills are but also give some examples of how you have demonstrated those skills in the workplace, or even outside it.


By quantifying your accomplishments in a concrete way, the recruitment team can see how well you can perform and how you can put your abilities to good use. Whenever possible, make sure that you connect those experiences to the position which you are applying for, showing how or why it could be helpful or relevant to their company.


Write In A Formal Style But avoid Cliché

While taking a cautious approach and using a slightly more formal tone is always the best idea when writing a cover letter for a dream job, take care not to sound stuffy or use buzzwords which sound trite and overused. Plain English which can be read speedily and easily understood is always the best bet.


Refer Back To The Advert

Any successful cover letter will refer back to the qualifications and skills which are mentioned in the advert for the post, however avoid simply re-writing the job description. Instead, address those requirements in your own words and in a creative and engaging way.


Write As You Would Speak

One easy way of including personality in a cover letter is to write in a similar fashion to the way that you would speak. That doesn’t mean that you should include slang or informal language, but it does mean that it can sound a little more conversational and a little less stuffy. If you imagine how you would speak during a telephone interview with your prospective employer, this would be the ideal tone to use in your letter.


Don’t Be Afraid To Highlight Your Qualities

If you have a particular quality, don’t hold back. You need to highlight your abilities and leave the recruitment team in no doubt as to your ability to fit the vacant position. If there is a specific quality that you have that you feel could swing the recruiting officer in your favor, always mention it outright.


While writing a cover letter which shows your personality fully can take some time to create, in the end it will be well worth the time and energy that you have expended. Prospective employers are sure to appreciate your genuine approach and the effort that you have put in, and are much more likely to invite you to interview. Then, all that is left to do is to impress them face to face. Good luck!

interview, job search, job interview, career change

Bold Questions to Ask in an Interview

Landed an interview for a job you really want? Congratulations! Now it’s time to get to work. The preparation phase before a big interview is a crucial time. You need to go over the job description, the company’s aims and objectives, and your own skills and experience in relation to the role, all of which you’ll be asked about in detail. And don’t forget, you need to think about a great list of interview questions that you want to ask yourself.


Bold Questions to Ask in an Interview that GET YOU NOTICED!


interview questions, bold interview questions, interview, career


It’s inevitable that any interviewer will ask if you have any questions about the job and the company at the end. Other than this being a great opportunity for you to find out everything you want to know, it is also a chance for you to stand out from other candidates by being bold.


Want to leave a memorable impression on your interviewer? Try asking one of these bold interview questions below:


Why is this job role available? Is it a newly created position? If not, how many people have done this role over the last few years?


Finding out why the position you’re interviewing for is available will provide you with some valuable insight about the company and where you could go with the role. It’s a bold interview question as most candidates may not ask about the history of the job. But the backstory can reveal quite a lot of important information.


If it is a role that was previously held by someone else, you want to find out as much as you can about why that person left the role without coming across as nosy. If there are any hints that the role has been held by many different people who have then gone on to leave the company, the high turnover rate could be a bad sign. It implies there may be issues within the team or the role.


If the previous person has been promoted, this is a good sign as it means the company rewards hard workers and there is room for progression. If the role is newly created, this is also positive as it signifies that the company is in a growth stage.


Based on my resume, are there any skills and qualifications that you think I may be lacking for this role?


This is a gutsy interview question that will show the interviewer that you’re willing to grow and learn in any areas where your skills or experience may be lacking. It will also give the interviewer a chance to state any concerns they may have about your qualifications for the role, and allow you to address any potential doubts. Lastly, it gives you the chance to discuss the role further with the interviewer. They may talk about areas of responsibility which have not have been mentioned in detail in the job description.


The best case scenario is that the interviewer won’t be able to think of any areas where you’re lacking, which will cement the idea in their mind that you’re the perfect person for the job!


Based on this interview, is there anything that may make you think I’m not the best person for this job?


This is the perfect follow up for the previous question, as it takes the focus away from your skils and experience to the discussion you’ve just had. It allows you to rectify any mistakes you may have made during the interview and clear up any misunderstandings there and then. It also reiterates your confidence and further emphasizes your interest in the job. This is a fairly bold interview question as it puts the interviewer on the spot to discuss any doubts they may have about you based on your discussion.


Try and clear any doubts that the interviewer may express there and then before you leave the interview. And if they express that they don’t have any doubts, you can leave the interview knowing that you put your best foot forward. If they don’t have any doubts, at least you’ll know that the only way you won’t get the job is if they find another candidate who is simply a better fit for them.


Asking a question like these last two ones also shows that you’re someone who is open to feedback and criticism, and that’s a quality that many employers value in their employees.


What more can I do to convince you that I’m the best person for this job?


This direct and bold interview question shows your hunger and desire to get the job, and your willingness to do everything in your power to get it. This is a particularly good question to throw in if you can feel the interviewer drifting off or losing interest in what you’re saying at any point. This interview question will result in the interviewer going over your discussion and skill set in their mind, and vocalizing any questions they may have about your abilities.


Whether they think you’re the right candidate for the job or not at this point, most interviewers will definitely appreciate your direct approach here and your willingness to do whatever you can to secure the job. It will also give them a chance to express what they are looking for from their ideal candidate, and you will have a better idea of what you need to say to convince them you’re that candidate.


In response to this interview question, some interviewers may even ask you to complete a test or an assignment for them to showcase your ability to handle the job. Either way, this is a strong interview question that shows confidence and initiative and should definitely be asked by those candidates who want their interview to stand out.




These interview questions may feel too bold for some of you, and they do require quite a lot of guts and confidence in yourself and your abilities. It is also easier to put forward some these questions once you find a level of comfort with your interviewer, so don’t rule them out altogether until you’ve met them. Remember, this extra display of confidence and candor could be just what you need to get you the job over another candidate with the exact same qualifications. Best of luck!

connections, networking, network, networking event

Your Network Net Worth: How to Demonstrate Your Value at a Networking Event

Networking isn’t just about making the right first impression, the key is to make a long lasting one – remember, the whole purpose of networking is to build up positive relationships over time. So, when you’re attending a networking event, how you can ensure that you are memorable, especially when everyone in the room is meeting countless other people? How can you guarantee that you’ll be remembered long after the event is over?

The good news is that standing out at a networking event isn’t as difficult as it sounds. There are some handy tips that you can use to master this kind of situation, so read on to find out more about the ways in which you can really work the room and get yourself noticed.

Start Out Right

It can be difficult to put yourself in the right frame of mind when you’re preparing to go to a networking event. Worrying about how you’re going to create the right impression can psych you out. Instead of stressing about it, put all ideas about creating business contacts or making sales on the back burner. Instead, attend the event with the idea that you’re simply going to the event to make new friends, and focus on what you could do for the other attendees rather than what they could do for you.

Prepare Yourself

Before you even arrive at the networking event, think in advance about how you’re going to introduce yourself. Don’t go overboard – nobody needs to hear your life story – but you do need to make yourself sound interesting. Two or three sentences will do, but don’t just give a basic summary of what you do, add some interesting information that will make them keen to find out more about you.

While you’re in preparation mode, you should also come up with some exciting details that you will be able to share with other attendees through the course of the event. Of course, you shouldn’t just reel off a list of the interesting clients you’re working with or the unusual projects you’ve been working on to everybody you meet, however if you can pepper your conversation with a couple of interesting points, you’ll find that you’ll never be struggling for something to say and your conversations will have a more organic flow. Remembering to go in with a positive attitude is key to your success. If you’re naturally shy, it’s especially important to have the mindset that you are going to be liked by other people.

Avoid Your Smartphone

If you have your face glued to your smartphone for the entire event, there’s a good chance that you’ll appear to be unapproachable. This means you’ll miss out on valuable opportunities for personal connections with the other attendees. Put you phone away in your purse or pocket and avoid checking it every few minutes. You’re sure to find that you meet more people that way.

Making Introductions


connections, networking, network, networking event


One of the hardest things about a networking event is how to get started, especially if you’re feeling anxious. A room full of strangers can be very intimidating, but don’t allow yourself to be overwhelmed. Instead, just relax, look around, spot a group that appear to be enjoying themselves and approach them, making eye contact and asking if you can join them. They’ll almost certainly say yes, and then all you need to do is listen politely to the conversation and add comments whenever you have something relevant to say.

Make Your Name Memorable

In a room full of people, trying to put names to faces can be a challenge and even more so after the event is over. To make yourself more memorable, you not only need to make sure that you tell everyone your name clearly and loudly, but also try to make associations that will make your name easier to recall later on. Simply by adding a little extra detail such as “White, like the color” or “Swan, like the bird” will help to fix your name in the listener’s mind. This is especially important if your name is particularly awkward to pronounce or especially long. Finding a few ways in which other people can remember it more easily will stand you in good stead.

Not only do you need other people to remember your name, you need to remember their names too. When you’re told a name, always repeat it back to them as this will not only show you are interested, but will also help you to remember it. Before leaving a conversation, repeat their name once more. The more often you repeat their name, the more chance you have of remembering it at the end of the day.

Keep Moving

While it may be difficult, it’s important not to spend too long talking to any single person at a networking event. The key is to introduce yourself to as many people as possible, so a maximum of three minutes with each person is ideal. This gives you plenty time for introductions, for making the right impression and for learning more about each other before moving on. A three-minute rule will not only ensure that you get to meet the maximum number of attendees, but it will also ensure your conversation won’t drag.

While this may be easy with certain people, with others it can be a challenge. Some people would talk all day if you let them. One way to get away without appearing rude is to generate a task which must be done and which requires you to move away (one good example is getting another glass of water). Unless you’ve told the person you’ll return, it isn’t rude not to go back – after all, that’s what networking events are about.

Be Interested

It may sound like an easy task to show interest in others while you’re attending a networking event, however it’s all too easy to forget if you’re feeling anxious. To show you’re interested when you’re speaking to someone, you should always make eye contact (don’t allow your gaze to stray around the room), smile frequently and if they make a joke, always laugh. This will give the cue that you find the other person interesting and funny, and when you appear genuinely interested, they’ll feel more comfortable with you.

One good way of showing you’re interested is asking a thoughtful question based on what they’ve just told you. Let’s say that someone has just told you that they have been to Europe on vacation, instead of saying “Wow, I bet that was great,” say something that prompts further interaction such as “Which countries did you visit?” or “What was the most memorable thing you did?”

Be Charming

It’s important to remember when attending a networking event that it isn’t just for the day – a good networking event will forge relationships that will last a long time. So once the event has finished don’t let it end there. The following day, sit down and email all of the people you met. Tell them that you were delighted to meet them, then follow up on any issues you talked about while you were in conversation. Make it as personal as you can – perhaps sharing an article they may find interesting or sharing an insider joke about something that happened at the event. Taking just a little more effort will ensure that you have the best chance of generating a working relationship that lasts.

Networking affords an important opportunity for you to create new and important allies and friends, so it’s important to make the right impression and to forge new connections. Although networking events can be nerve-wracking, they can also be a lot of fun and you can make many contacts that will prove to be valuable over time. Practice these key skills and over time you’ll start feeling more comfortable when attending this sort of occasion.

Power Suit: What to Wear to Every Stage of the Interview Process Besides Just Business Professional

Just got the call that you’ve got an interview for the job of your dreams? Congratulations! Now comes the hard work. You need to throw yourself into the preparation stage if this is the job you really want. As they say, if you fail to prepare, you’re preparing to fail (or something along those lines). Some of the things to prepare for include researching the company and the role, finding out more aboutthe market and the competitors, and brushing up on your own resume and experience. We would also recommend compiling a list of questions that you want to ask at the end. Now, let’s move on to the fun stuff. What are you going to wear to the interview? We all know first impressions matter. And never more so than when you’re trying to make a good impression in a very limited period of time. If you’re confused about the best interview wear for a business professional such as yourself, check out our complete guide to interview outfits below. Since the job interview process can be lengthy, we’ve broken it down into the different interview stages for you as well:

Stage 1: The Phone Interview

business professional, interview, career change, career services

For most professionals, the first step in an interview process usually starts off with a phone
interview with a member of the HR team. These phone interviews are used by employers to narrow
down the pool of applicants so they can decide who to invite for a face to face meeting.

What to wear for a phone interview: What you wear for your phone interview entirely depends on
whether it is a Skype or video call, or a purely audio call. Some HR team members prefer to use Skype as
they like to see you to get a better sense of your personality. If it is a video call, we would recommend
wearing smart-casual clothing. You don’t want to look too formal as you will likely be taking the call
from your own home. It would look slightly odd if you were to be dressed in business professional wear.

For men: We would recommend a shirt, perhaps with a smart sweater over it and some pants or
jeans. Even though they are very unlikely to see the lower half of your body, we wouldn’t
recommend wearing shorts just in case!

For women: A nice blouse with a skirt or a smart-casual dress would do the job for a Skype

If your phone interview is an audio call, it may feel extremely tempting to do it in your sweats and pjs. However, we’d recommend against this. Put on some casual but slightly smarter clothing even for an audio phone interview to put yourself in a more formal frame of mind. If you’re in your pjs, your relaxed state of mind may make you come across more informal or casual in your style of speaking or tone of voice.

Stage 2: Face-to- face interview with the hiring manager

The first in-person interview is usually a one on one between the applicant and the primary hiring
manager. It often consists of the manager asking questions around your resume and past experience, as
well as some competency based questions. They will want to know more about why you want to work
for that specific company and what you can bring to the role above all others. Make sure that you’ve
prepared yourself for all potential questions and also prepared some questions on the role. Not asking
any questions will make it seem as if your interest level in the job is low.

What to wear for the first face-to- face interview: This is your first chance to meet the person who could
potentially be your new boss. You need to come across as a put together business professional who is
well presented and capable. Your outfit needs to evoke feelings of confidence in them that you will
represent their company well.

For men: Depending on the type of company it is, we would recommend either business casual
or a suit at this stage. If the company is more on the formal and corporate side in a sector such
as finance or law, then a well-tailored suit would be the recommended option for a face to face
meeting. If it is a media or advertising company, or anything in a slightly more creative field,
then business casual would be the way to go as a suit would look out of place. This could be a
smarter version of the outfit from the Skype interview, such as a well-ironed shirt with smart
pants and polished shoes.

For women: The same rules apply for women. Depending on the dress code you’ve been given
or your own knowledge of the company, you can scale the levels of formality of your outfit up or
down. For a more formal environment, you could go with a stylish skirt or pant suit. Stick with
more traditional colors such as black or navy at this stage. If it’s a more casual business, a smart
dress with tights would be a suitable option. Don’t wear overly high heels or too much makeup,
as it’s best to come across more neutral and well presented at this stage.

Stage 3: The panel interview

If you’ve gotten to this stage, congratulations are in order again! Many companies will ask business
professionals to come in for an interview that consists of a panel of people at this stage. This panel is
likely to include the hiring manager again, as well as maybe their boss and another member of the team
you would be in if hired. It is also likely that you may be asked to make a presentation at this stage, on a
pre-assigned topic.

What to wear for the panel interview: This is often considered as the most nerve-wracking stage in the
interview process by candidates. Having to answer questions from a panel can be intimidating, and you
need to be well prepared for any questions on your resume and past experience. Wearing an outfit that
makes you feel comfortable and confident is important at this stage. Whether the company you’re
interviewing for is formal or not, we’d recommend leaning towards more formal wear at this stage. Our
advice would be to go for a business suit to come across looking truly professional and poised.

For men: You don’t want to be feeling insecure about the appearance of your suit when you
have so much else to think about, so pick a suit that you know you feel comfortable and look
good in. Dark and sober colors make a good choice here, and a cotton suit is a better choice
than linen as it’s less likely to crease. Avoid any loud ties or crazy socks so the interviewers can
remain focused on you. And make sure those shoes are nicely polished!

For women: Pick a well-tailored skirt or pant suit depending on what you feel more comfortable
in. As you’re likely to be standing up while presenting, make sure that your heels are of a
sensible height. It would be wise to avoid any bold colors or garish patterns at this stage. Keep
the outfit classic and comfortable so you can focus on the task at hand.

Stage 4: Meeting another member/members of the team

As a final stage, some companies will ask business professionals to have a more informal ‘meeting’ with
another member or members of the team they could soon be a part of. This is usually done when
they’re sure that they like the candidate from a professional standpoint, and just want to assess a
cultural fit. This is also your chance to ask someone who is on your level a little more about the job role
and company.

What to wear for the team meeting interview: This is finally the time that you can start to let your
personality show. It is usually an informal meeting with someone who could be at a similar level to you
in the company. There are also no formal interview questions to worry about. You can revert back to the
type of smart-casual wear that you wore at your Skype interview stage here, but you may want to up
the style quotient.

For men: A more casual shirt and pants combo could work well here, depending on where the
meeting is to be held. If it’s to be held at the office, then choose a slightly smarter shirt. If it’s a
coffee meeting you can be a little more relaxed.

For women: For this meeting, you just need to come across well-presented but not too formal.
Brighter and bolder colors can work well here, or you could wear your favorite smart-casual
dress that you usually get compliments in!

Hopefully the above guide has taught all you business professionals out there a little more about what
to expect from the different stages of a job interview and what you should think about wearing.
Obviously, if you’ve been given a specific dress code with your interview invite then you should stick to
that! You can also always call up and ask more about the dress code if you’re really unsure. The
important thing is to focus on preparing for the interview as the primary reason you’ll be hired is based
on your interview responses. Good luck!

career achievements, life achievements, achievements

Creating a “Life List” – Information and Achievements to Keep Track of Throughout Your Career

I was speaking with a client the other day about information needed for her résumé and online applications when she made a comment that I’ve heard echoed by many:


“I wish they told you in high school or college to start writing all this stuff down.”


She was referring to the seemingly never ending list of information required for job applications. Things like your college or even high school GPA, achievements, exact start and end dates for jobs, etc.


Her comment struck a chord with me because she was absolutely right and when I started assisting others with the job search process years ago I learned I needed to start a list myself.


Thus began my “life list” – or at least that’s the document name in my files.


With our society moving towards a more dynamic work force filled with frequent career changes, an increase in contract roles (otherwise known as the gig economy), and multiple “side hustles,” a so-called life list becomes even more important.


So, what should be on this “life list”?


  • Dates:

    This is a big one. Keep note of exact start and end dates (month, day and year) associated with any milestone. This includes time spent in certain jobs, promotions received, when you received raises, education, training, certifications, volunteer work, etc.


  • Exact Titles:

    For every position you’ve held (paid or unpaid) you should know your exact formal job title.


  • Financial Details:

    How much were you making in all your jobs? Record details about salary/base pay, bonuses, commission rates, raises, etc. Be sure you know your starting and ending wages.


  • Education, Certifications and Training:

    As previously mentioned, record your start and end dates, but also be sure to include your GPA or end results, exact degree/certification/designation received, and related work or involvement (clubs, practicum hours, fellowships, etc.). These all can be relevant achievements in your career. 


  • Supervisors Name, Title, and Contact Information:

    This information will fade as time passes and your supervisor moves on to different roles. Jot it down now to save yourself time later.



Why should you do this? Because recording this information can be beneficial for many reasons both professionally and personally.


Reason 1:

The process of rewriting or adding to your résumé and LinkedIn profile becomes so much easier.


Most of my clients find the information gathering phase of their project the most challenging because they have to hunt for data they thought they’d have no problem remembering. Start documenting everything as soon as possible to save yourself the headache down the line.


Reason 2:

On applications you can be sure the information you’re providing is accurate, not just a guess. Come time for a background or reference check this accurate information is especially significant.


The last thing you want is to guess that you started February 4th, 2015 at $85K with Golden Enterprises and during employment verification the company reports you actually started March 15th, 2015 at $74K. This not only puts you in an awkward spot, it could cost you a job offer.


Reason 3:

You’re better able to visualize your career progression. Seeing all the steps taken throughout your career provides you the opportunity to reflect on various positions you’ve held and better articulate that journey in future interviews.    

My clients that keep track of their career progression are better able to articulate their successes and related information. As a result, they have a stronger résumé filled with exact information rather than estimations.  


Reason 4:

Keeping track of your professional achievements can also lend itself to tracking big personal changes in your life.  


I include private events on my life list as well so that I can associate major personal changes with professional happenings. Tracking moves, birth of a child, or even deaths in the family can help you remember why you took a new job or had a gap in your employment history and can add context to your professional narrative.

technical skills, hard skills, job skills, resume skills, resume writing services

Technical Vs. Non-Technical Skills in the Workplace: Which Is More Important?

This past season on ABC brought us a new show, “The Good Doctor.” I’m a self-professed TV junkie with an affinity for medical related shows (Grey’s Anatomy anyone?) and have been loving it.


For those that haven’t watched the show, it’s based on a young doctor (Shaun Murphy) with autism, which makes verbal and non-verbal interaction with others difficult. On the other hand, it also allows him to think through medical anomalies in ways no one else can.


Throughout the show, scenarios are presented in which Dr. Shaun Murphy makes extreme mistakes when communicating with patients, but then restores the patients and the hospital’s faith in him when he is able to save the day with a medical miracle.


Now — you’re probably wondering how this relates back to anything LinkedIn “worthy.”


I was involved in a LinkedIn conversation the other day about the importance of “soft skills” such as interpersonal communication, motivation, or ability to receive constructive criticism in the workplace and thought back to The Good Doctor.


During the conversation, I shared a statistic that according to Forbes, “85% of new hires fail for attitude, not aptitude.”


I’m a strong believer in this sentiment and oftentimes share with my résumé and LinkedIn clients that it is important to display both technical (hard) skills and non-technical (soft) skills, such as attitude, due to their dual importance in hiring decisions.


In this case study, if you will, Shaun Murphy has the hard skills needed to be a doctor, but none of the soft skills. He is able to make diagnoses and perform complex surgeries, but he is unable to empathize or effectively communicate with his patients.


I’m wondering how this translates to real world hiring decisions. So without further ado, I have a few questions I’d like to throw out to my network:


If someone has shown you that their soft skills don’t align with a position, but their technical skills far surpass any other candidates, would you still hire them or keep them employed?


If faced with 2 candidates, one with all the hard skills and none of the soft skills or another with great soft skills and poor hard skills, which would you pick and why?


Is there a tipping point when technical skills far outweigh basic soft skills like being able to communicate your ideas with others well?


If someone can get to a certain level in their company or they’re in a highly regarded role, is there a point where soft skills just don’t matter as much?


Are there certain industries where non-technical (soft) skills don’t matter or don’t matter as much?


IT, actuarial science, aerospace engineering, and neurology may be examples of fields that boil down to technical skills. Do basic soft skills still matter in this industries?  


Do certain stages of our career have more of a focus on technical skills whereas others focus more on non-technical?


Perhaps if you’re hiring a recent college graduate you care more about their soft skills than if you’re filling a senior-level role.


Most articles are written to share knowledge with others, but this isn’t one of them. Rather, I want to start a discussion to get opinions from others.


Hiring managers, what are your thoughts? Do you have certain examples you could provide?


Job seekers, what have you been experiencing in the labor market lately?


Established professionals, would you prefer to have a coworker with excellent technical skills, but is a drag to be around? Or, would you prefer to have someone that isn’t as good technically speaking, but is a supportive and a pleasure to be around?

job, information, paperwork, career

Resume Buzzwords for HR Departments: Actionable Verbs for Your Resume

Although modesty is supposed to be a virtue, that’s certainly not the case when it comes to creating a resume that will make employers sit up and take notice. In fact, your resume represents the ideal opportunity for you to brag about all your achievements and to let everyone know just how fantastic you are, all the wonderful things you’ve achieved and, more to the point, what you could do for their company if they hired you. Since your specific focus when writing a resume is to sell yourself, it’s time to be a little creative. Of course, that doesn’t mean that you should make things up, but it does mean that you need to come up with more exciting and emotive ways of livening up your actual achievements. You need to spice up your application with resume buzzwords.


The Importance Of Actionable Resume Buzzwords


Verbs are the be all and end all when it comes to writing your resume. Choosing the right ones can make the difference between being a shortlisted candidate and ending up at the back of the filing cabinet. Vague, weak, or just plain overused verbs not only won’t work in your favor but will actually diminish all of the accomplishments that you’ve made in your career so far. It couldn’t be more important, then, to choose words that present you in the best possible light and which showcase your skills and expertise in your chosen industry.


Passive verbs are tantamount to failure, so it couldn’t be more essential to choose active verbs which are appropriate to your industry. Leading action words that have been thoughtfully chosen will highlight your experience and skills rather than having a negative effect on your contribution to your former company. In today’s highly competitive job market, Human Resources departments have certain buzzwords that they are looking for when it comes to selecting prospective employees, and it’s important to get it right first time to avoid your resume being consigned to the trash.


Avoiding The Cliche


With potentially hundreds of candidates applying for the same job, the task of reading through all those resumes can be an unenviable one. There is nothing more boring than reading a hundred almost identical texts, all of which look and sound the same. It’s no wonder that HR teams have developed clever tricks that they use to weed out the likely candidates from the rest, however if you want to be noticed, you need how to make sure your resume is one of the ones that makes it onto the shortlist pile.


Cliches are the death-knell of any resume. Using the same old tried and tested verbs to describe your former roles will make you look just like any other run of the mill candidate. To achieve your objective, you need to make more unique word selections which will make your abilities leap off the page.


With that in mind, here is a quick guide to some of the best verbs to use when writing your next resume that will make it more powerful and more effective.


Express Yourself – Actionable Resume Buzzwords To Convey Your Communication Skills


Most jobs these days require applicants to have excellent communication skills, both written and verbal. From the highest level posts to entry level positions, there are very few roles which don’t involve some sort of human contact, and being able to express yourself effectively and to convey the company’s brand message is key to securing employment.


All too often, applicants use words like “talked”, “organized”, “led” and “presented,” and although there’s nothing wrong with those words, they don’t really create a distinct impression of you as a dynamic character. With a few little tweaks, you can shine a spotlight on your skills and elevate your standing in one fell swoop.


Let’s take a look at the word “organized”. It’s a bit dull and doesn’t really stir up much interest in the minds of the recruitment team. How about changing the word to “orchestrated” instead? It means the same thing, but immediately it gives an extra connotation of power and coordination skills. In the same vein, we could also switch the words “talked” and “led” with “addressed” and “chaired”. These words are a little more formal and therefore carry more weight than just generic terms.


Communicating Your Ability To Organize


You can probably count on one hand the number of jobs which don’t specify a need for excellent organizational skills. Whether you’re applying for an office role or a managerial post, being able to organize your time and work efficiently is the key to success. So, how can you demonstrate this to the HR team at your prospective employer’s company?


Let’s take a look at some of the standard words that the average candidate might use to express their organizational abilities. Of course, there is “organized”, but you might also see “filed” or “ordered” cropping up. Although these words accurately describe what you’ve done, they aren’t exciting or emotive. So how about changing them to “cataloged”, “operated”, “monitored” or “executed” instead?


The subtle nuances in these replacement words make all the difference. For example, if you “executed” a project rather than “organized” it, it suggests that you not only set it up in the first place but that you actually saw it through to its successful conclusion. Even basic, functional descriptions such as “I filed accounts paperwork” can be improved with an upgrade to “I was responsible for monitoring client accounts”. While the meaning is the same, the effect is completely different in the mind of the reader and the impression of you will be hugely improved.


Prove Your Management Skills


If you’re applying for a senior level post, you need to be prepared to put even more effort in to writing your resume. The competition for managerial posts can be tough, so making yourself stand out from the crowd couldn’t be more important.


The average words which Human Resources tend to see on resumes for managerial post candidates include “oversaw”, “handled” and “led”. You’ll probably agree that these words, while functional, aren’t remotely exciting, and certainly won’t make you appear to be a stand out candidate for the position. So, what changes can you make to impress the recruitment team?


Proving your ability to lead is essential when applying for a job in any kind of management, so how can you demonstrate everything that you’ve achieved in this area in an engaging way? “leading” a team isn’t anywhere near as exciting as “establishing” one, as this gives the impression that you had the ability and drive to create a team from scratch. Another word which you should avoid is “oversaw”. Overseeing a team actually comes across in a negative way when you’re applying for a high level job. While it may be fine for someone applying for a supervisory post, when looking for the ideal management candidate, HR teams are looking for someone who is proactive and who takes an active part in the project rather than simply watching over it. Expressing how you have “delegated” tasks shows in a much more effective manner how you really participated in that particular project.


Avoid The Dangers


Of course, there are some pitfalls to avoid when creating your new and upgraded resume. The primary danger is accidentally repeating yourself, using the same exciting action word again and again. This will actually reduce its impact on the reader and will instead downgrade your status and make your resume even more dull and boring than it would have been if you had left the original average words in place. If you’re struggling to find a word that truly expresses your achievements, skills and experience properly, it’s a good idea to dig out a thesaurus or dictionary and look for a suitable word that captures the essence of your abilities in a way that is sure to create the right impression. Before you submit your finished version, however, always ask a colleague or a trusted friend to read it over, just to make sure that you haven’t made any foolish mistakes or errors and that it reads through fluidly.

year in review, annual report, job search, career services

Another Year of Achievement for Vocamotive: A 2017 Retrospective

2017 was a busy year at Vocamotive! During the past year, we continued to provide the very best in vocational rehabilitation and consulting services to clients throughout Illinois, and achieved excellent case management and closure results for our customers.


Vocamotive continued to expand service offerings. Our extensive line of services allow us to empower more individuals than ever before in pursuing new employment opportunities.


Here are a few things we have been up to, along with some big achievements we had last year.


2017, review of the year, annual report, review


Vocational Evaluation: 2017 in Review


Vocational Evaluations Performed by Our CRCs in 2017


It was a productive year for our CRC team. They completed well over 300 vocational evaluation interviews. Vocamotive also started offering comprehensive in-house vocational testing to assess General Educational Development, as well as aptitude and interest assessment, as part of our comprehensive vocational evaluation process to identify viable job targets and training opportunities for clients authorized for vocational services.


Additionally, we continued to expand service to special needs students in transition, including vocational evaluation and job placement services. The goal of this new initiative is to evaluate capabilities and help young adults with cognitive or developmental disabilities to successfully transition from high school to the workforce.


Expertise and Credentials


Our Certified Rehabilitation Counselors, and job search staff renewed credentialing with the Veterans Administration to continue to provide vocational services to U.S. military veterans. Services provided include vocational evaluation and testing, job placement services and independent living assessments.

Our team of Certified Rehabilitation Counselors completed hundreds of depositions and trials in workers compensation, civil litigation, wrongful discharge, and other litigation, serving both respondent and petitioner/plaintiff.


Our team of Computer Lab Instructors renewed and expanded the most up-to-date Microsoft Certifications and Illinois Board of Higher Education requirements to train our clients in keyboarding and all aspects of Microsoft Office, including Word, Excel and Outlook, and our unique Vocational English as a Second Language program.


Job Placement


Vocational rehabilitation clients successfully placed into new jobs in 2017


This year, 33 vocational rehabilitation clients were successfully placed into new jobs. The Career Development Team provided comprehensive support and supervision to clients to find new career opportunities by identifying employment opportunities, supervising the process (keeping our clients accountable), conducting mock interviews, developing strong résumés, facilitating job application, directing follow up with employers, and building employer relationships to create placement opportunity and job offer.


Computer Training


Vocamotive offers Computer Training Services under supervision and approval of the Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE). This year Vocamotive again completed the 5 year credentialing process with the IBHE for curriculum and instruction staff.



Students provided with computer skills training in 2017


Our Computer Training Program served 99 students who were enrolled in 2017. The computer training curriculum offered at Vocamotive includes basic keyboarding, computer use, basic through advanced Microsoft Office programs (including Word, Excel and Outlook), internet and email communication for job search purposes,.


Vocamotive offers a complete hardware and software solution, providing students with laptop, Internet connectivity, and assistive technology as required. Via our customized training console we monitor student activity and progress, and provide technical support.


Whether our students train in our lab or in a remote location, Vocamotive monitors progress, provide support, and manages accountability.


Résumé and Personal Branding Services


In 2017 Vocamotive continued to build its new division dedicated to providing Résumé, LinkedIn profile, executive biographies, and related writing services to clients outside of the vocational rehabilitation market. Adam Zajac and Brittney Beck are both Nationally Certified Résumé Writers and have built a diverse client base throughout the country and the world.


26 U.S. States and 9 Countries

In which Vocamotive provided résumé services in 2017


resume writing service, job search, 2017, new job, career change


As demonstrated by the map below, the team has worked with individuals in 26 states last year. In addition, our international clientele included business executives from many countries, including Luxembourg, Canada, Spain, Germany, Australia, Malaysia, Colombia, and the United Kingdom.


Adam and Brittney work with senior level professionals and executives in a wide array of fields, including (but not limited to) Insurance, Real Estate, Broadcast Media, Defense Contracting, Government Administration, Military and Veterans Affairs, Global Retail, Supply Chain, Academia, Law, Hospitality, Finance and Banking, Healthcare, Energy, Engineering, Social Work, Automotive, Pharmacy, Urban Planning, Criminal Justice, Design, Sales, IT, Professional Athletics, PR/Advertising/Marketing, Nonprofit Administration, Human Resources, Merchandising, Global Shipping and Logistics, and Counseling.


Brittney successfully obtained her NCRW certification this year, making her and Adam two of only 55 NCRWs in the world with this résumé writing distinction (the highest within the field). Adam was also elected to the board at the National Résumé Writers’ Association (NRWA) as Conference Programming Chair.



Glowing testimonials received by Vocamotive’s résumé writing team in 2017


As a sign of their success (and their clients’ satisfaction), Adam and Brittney received 45 written testimonials in 2017 for their writing, career guidance and executive coaching expertise. Some of the feedback received included:


“Brittney is a pleasure to work with! I just finished up the process with her and was so very pleased with the end results. I would absolutely recommend Brittney to anyone needing assistance with making a career move. I am in a period of career transition right now so I had many high hopes and she made sure to exceed my expectations every step of the way, both with the content she delivered as well as the career guidance and support she provided. Brittney was extremely professional, knowledgeable, and patient throughout the detailed process!”


“As a senior operations executive, I recently found myself seeking a new opportunity. After deciding professional career and writing advice would give me a decisive advantage in my job search, I approached Adam after considering several writers. He assisted me in developing a highly polished profile which did an excellent job of representing my brand and career narrative. His work produced immediate results and helped to grab the attention of top recruiters. He is an excellent resource and I highly recommend his LinkedIn, resume writing and other career-related services.”



The new salary of one of our résumé clients


From the desk of Joseph Belmonte, C.R.C./President Vocamotive, Inc.


2017 was a banner year for Vocamotive. We continued to provide service to workers compensation claimants throughout Illinois and neighboring states, offering the most unique vocational rehabilitation protocol in Illinois, and maintaining our status as one of the most unique vocational rehabilitation and career consulting practices in the country.


We continued to drive down case open time and cost to closure in core workers compensation services to yield greater return on investment.


We expanded staff expertise and credentials in vocational testing, the Veterans Administration, Microsoft Office Certification, Vocational English as a Second Language, Résumé Writing and Personal Branding.


We are preparing to take bold new steps to create unique training and employment opportunities for Special Needs Students in Transition and for students who have aged out of the educational system, but still need assistance.


Empowerment Through Employment is our mission. Our name is a combination of two Latin words. Vocatio (our call to service), and Motum (our passion and commitment). Vocatio/Motum-Vocamotive. We love what we do and we intend to do it even better in 2018!

Want to learn more about Vocamotive’s wide-array of services? Contact Vocamotive by phone at 630-789-2519, via email at, or by visiting our website at

interview, handshake, pre-interview, interview tips, career change, job search

Pre-Interview Routines That Help You Bring IT!

Nail Your Interview with These Routines

Attending a job interview can be one of the most nerve-wracking experiences in any of our lives, especially if it’s a chance to take another step toward achieving the career of our dreams. The trouble with nerves, however, is that they turn us into stuttering, stammering shadows of ourselves, and prevent us from putting forward the best representation of ourselves when it matters most!


Here at Vocamotive we want to change that, so we’re doing to share six tips that will help you stay cool, calm and collected while you’re being interviewed. Follow this advice and you’ll have employers eating out of your hand and begging you to start work before the meeting is even over.



Do Your Homework


It goes without saying that you should spend plenty of time and effort researching the company that you’re meeting with, but don’t just parrot back what’s written on their corporate website. Guess what – they work there, and already know all that. Instead, spend a little time thinking outside the box.


Firstly, look into business competitors. What are they doing well, and where are they falling short? Learn everything you can about the sector and you’ll be able to impress the company by sharing insights that they may not even have thought about themselves. Look for a particularly successful case study from the company you’re interviewing with too, such as something that made the mainstream media. This will equip you to fill any silences with confidence and relevant conversation – and you’ll feel much calmer heading in knowing that you have an Ace up your sleeve.


Of course, you should also investigate the LinkedIn profiles of the people interviewing you. Firstly this will give you an idea of how seriously they take their online presence, but you’ll also be more relaxed if you know a little about the person you’re meeting, rather than seeing them as anonymous gatekeepers to your career aspirations.


What’s their working background? Where did they go to college? This is useful information for ice-breaking conversation that will set you at ease when you arrive. And while you’re online, make sure there are no embarrassing photos on your own social media accounts, as your interviewer will probably be doing the same thing!

Think About What You Want


Here’s a common mistake that we’re all guilty of when it comes to interviews – we’re so busy trying to impress the people on the company side of the desk that we forget that the meeting is for our benefit, too!


Before you head into your meeting, clear your head and think about what you are hoping to get out of the job when they inevitably offer it you. Which they will. You know what you bring to the table, so make sure you’re ready to be clear about that in your own mind – but also give plenty of thought about what you want in return, should you decide to accept the job.


Is the salary appropriate for your skill and experience? Will you have a parking space? Are the hours flexible if you have other commitments? What’s the company culture? Remember, you are interviewing this business just as much as they are interviewing you.


Keep that mind, writing it down the night before the meeting if necessary, and you’ll be able to retain some control over your nerves – and your confidence and composure will impress the interviewers. There’s nothing wrong with asking questions (when appropriate!), and most businesses will actively encourage it during the interview process.

Get Groomed


interview, handshake, pre-interview, interview tips, career change, job search


Clothes may not make the man or woman, but dressing appropriately can have a huge impact on how we feel in a professional setting. Taking the time to prepare everything in advance will take a lot of stress of out of the interview day itself.


Try on your suit or outfit the night before, ensuring that everything fits appropriately, and then lay the clothes out or hang them to prevent any creases. Give your shoes a thorough polish, so you’re ready to step straight into them and feel great. If you need to shave, and can get away with doing so the night before, do so then – cuts and shreds of toilet paper on your chin are not a good look for anybody. Get a haircut a few days before the interview, so you’re not walking in looking like a kid on their first day at school.


Go easy on the perfume of cologne on the day of the interview – there’s nothing wrong with a classy scent that makes you feel expensive, but nobody wants to feel like their office is doubling up as the fragrance counter of a department store – and dab a little water on your wrists and behind your ears. These are pressure points for stress and anxiety, and will keeping them cool will help keep your nerves under control.


Arrive Early – But Don’t Tell Them


When it comes to job interviews it’s better to be an hour early than a minute late – but the truth is, both are just as frustrating for the interviewer. The best possible way to prepare yourself is to actually arrive in plenty of time to ensure that there are no mishaps with traffic, street closures or public transport, but don’t head into the building until ten minutes before the interview is due to start.


Find the building, and hang back and observe from a safe distance. You’ll be able to watch the current employees coming and going, and get a feel for the place through this. How are they dressed? How are they carrying themselves? Are they relaxed, or gravely serious? In many respects, this will teach you more about the business and their culture than any interview will be able to offer, and give you a real insight into how it will be to work there.


Of course, this doesn’t mean that you should be too informal during the meeting, no matter how relaxed the staff appear to be. You will, however, be able to humanize your interviewers. Rather than ogres that can make and break your dreams, they’re people just like you – it never hurts to have a reminder of this!


Build a Music Playlist


interview, handshake, pre-interview, interview tips, career change, job search, motivation


We’re willing to wager that you use music playlists to get you psyched and cooled down in other aspects of your life, such as hitting the gym, so why should a good interview be any different? Music can be a great way of manipulating our moods, and a handful of carefully cultivated favorite songs can be a great way of keeping on top of your nerves.


Start the day with something that gets you psyched and ready to take on the world before you’ve even swung your legs out of bed in the morning. Follow that up with something jolly that keeps a smile on your face – you want to be feeling happy when you head into the room, as the smile that accompanies your handshake can be key to giving a good first impression. Consider something a little more low-key to cool your pulse just before you head in so you’re not too pumped, and then line up a track for the immediate aftermath to take your mind off the meeting itself and get your head back into the ‘real world’.


Choose a Prop


A well-chosen prop can be a hugely important and useful weapon in your arsenal when it comes to an interview. Pick your prop before you head in – a folder of documents or items of jewelry are great examples – and practice using these props to keep a steady rhythm of speech cadence.


When we’re nervous, many of us tend to speak quickly, or tail off as we start to question ourselves. If you have a folder that contains your resume and some previous work samples, you can teach yourself to take a moment to breathe and say, “I actually have something relevant to answer that question here” – why tell when you can show?


Likewise, if you have a ring on your finger that’s kept out of sight, you can practice twirling it at a pace that matches your optimum speech pattern. If you twist the ring around your finger while you speak, you’ll be able to ensure that you are talking at a steady, stable rhythm and stave off the temptation to babble.


If all else fails, practice taking a sip of water whenever you feel your nerves start to rise – buying yourself a few precious seconds of thinking time can make all the difference.

job tips, tips, new year, new job, career search

18 Tips for Job Seekers in 2018!

Great Tips for Professionals Seeking a New Position in the New Year!


job search, interview tips, career change, networking


With 2018 right around the corner, many experienced professionals are thinking of making a career move. Opportunities for management and executive level roles are on the rise, so if advancement with your current employer is not in the cards within the near future, perhaps you should start exploring your options. While there are many things to consider when making a career change, and decisions around compensation, work environment, travel, time commitment, etc. are important, we will reserve that discussion for another time (and article). Instead, this article will primarily provide guidance for those individuals who have already decided to launch their search. Below are 18 tips (subdivided among 3 relevant sections) which may be just the info needed to help jumpstart your employment search in the New Year!    


Tips 1 through 6 – Updating, Optimizing and Modernizing your Resume

Resumes have long existed as the backbone of an effective job search effort. However, most resume writers, recruiters and career coaches will tell you that the document has evolved significantly in recent years, with elements including style, formatting, content choice, length and other variables changing considerably in just the past year or two.


  • Pro Tip 1:

    Focus your content on achievements, rather than just on your responsibilities. Presenting multiple accomplishments from current and past roles illustrates you have been successful and that you can achieve similar results in the future. Seeing as your accomplishments also provide insights into many of your daily responsibilities, you will (as the saying goes) kill two birds with one stone. For example, rather than stating that you were responsible for sales growth, incorporate an achievement which simultaneously demonstrates this. Most would agree that including “increased sales 32% in 2017” is much more impactful than blandly stating “accountable for increasing sales.


  • Pro Tip 2:

    Consider creating more than one variant of your resume. If you are pursuing different roles, your executive summary and other resume content should be adjusted and targeted appropriately. For instance, if pursuing a position in operations leadership, you may want to focus your summary around executive management wins and expertise. If also applying for sales leadership roles, make sure to enrich that version’s summary with attractive achievements such as revenue enhancement, sales capture, margin improvement, etc.


  • Pro Tip 3:

    If creating multiple resume variants, consider building a “modular” resume. This involves creating sections of your resume which can quickly and easily be swapped in and out depending on your target audience. For instance, if you plan on applying online, a resume with a keyword-rich experience section is often a good idea. However, if you are sending your resume directly to a contact, you can sometimes pare down overly wordy sections and then augment your resume by adding easy to understand visuals (such as simple graphs or infographics). Having a resume constructed in a modular format can often save you time and effort in the long run.


Sage advice from Wendi Weiner, Esq., Career Branding Expert:  “A job search for executives in 2018 requires a different process and a different approach. You can’t use the same LinkedIn profile or resume strategy from 2008 and expect to succeed with it in the digital age. You need a clear brand that communicates your value proposition, a defined job search target, and you need to build a network pipeline that propels your brand.” Learn more about Wendi via her website here!


  • Pro Tip 4:

    Incorporate hard data wherever possible. Your resume becomes stronger once you begin incorporating either qualitative or quantitative information. Why? The information you are conveying is easily understood, it allows the reader to get a better sense for the impact you made, and you become more credible because you are sharing verifiable information. Data comes in many forms, but often consists of numerical facts, exact names (companies, awards, etc.), measurements and detailed descriptors. An example of this process could look like the following:


    • Take this statement: “Improved profit margins in 2017.”
    • Now, add quantitative data:Improved profit margins 28% ($11.3M) in 2017.”
    • Finally, add qualitative data: “Improved profit margins of Serum-Tech line 28% ($11.3M) in 2017 by automating product processing and fulfillment.”


  • Pro Tip 5:

    Brand yourself with a tailored headline and key competencies. To help focus the reader, consider how you want yourself to be viewed and which of your skills are most pertinent in the roles you are targeting. By including this information in a clear and concise format towards the very top of your resume, you can help ensure that your experience will be interpreted correctly. Keep in mind your headline and skills can and should be edited to match the role you are applying for.


Sage advice from Virginia Franco, Executive Career Storyteller: “In today’s world where people are reading your resume and LinkedIn on screens and mobile devices rather than print, more words and many sentences don’t equate to a strong resume.  Write for screen reading by avoiding long lists, long paragraphs and dense text.” Learn more about Virginia via her website here!


  • Pro Tip 6:

    Be mindful of applicant tracking software (ATS) system requirements. Many executives who do not find a new position through traditional networking end up using recruiters or firms which utilize ATS systems. Online job search engines also utilize this type of software. If you believe you might apply through any type of automated system, build an online use variant of your resume. Utilizing appropriate keywords and phrases, assigning content appropriately throughout the various sections of your resume, and utilizing a format which is ATS compliant can mean the difference between securing an interview and being rejected before a human being ever lays eyes on your document.

Tips 7 through 12 – Networking and Utilizing Professional Social Media Platforms (LinkedIn):

Networking has always been central to a successful job search effort, especially for those seeking leadership positions. A few decades ago, most individuals had a relatively limited professional network. Nowadays, with the mainstreaming of professionally oriented social media (i.e. LinkedIn), job seekers have access to a vast network of recruiters, HR personnel, and others in their field who are willing to help by providing a well-timed introduction. Though statistics vary, most career professionals would tell you that effective networking will speed-up your job search and help you gain exposure to higher-quality opportunities.


  • Pro Tip 7:

  • Ensure your social media activity represents you in a positive light. According to “What Recruiters Look for on Your LinkedIn Profile” (as seen in Fast Company), most hiring personnel want to see a candidate who engages their network, shares valuable content, and generally interacts on the platform in a professional manner. Recruiters will view your profile to see if you are active and to determine the nature of that activity. That rude comment or inappropriate article you shared? Upon discovering it, they will likely stray away for fear that you will be a workplace liability. It is relatively simple – remain active and share workplace-acceptable content.  

    Pro Tip 8:

  • Use your LinkedIn headline as a branding statement that communicates more than just your current job title. The headline makes up the majority of viewable text when you show up in a search, and is one of the very first things recruiters will notice when viewing your profile. Be sure your headline draws people onto your page or motivates them to continue reading.


Sage advice from Michelle Robin, NCRW, CPRW: “With the unemployment rate being low and the number of employers hiring increasing in 2018, the job market is going to get even more competitive. While there may be more opportunities, that means more people will be vying for these positions. For the job seeker it means that distinguishing yourself and building your personal brand is more critical than ever. I think we are going to see more personal websites, videos and consistent use of social media platforms especially with professionals in the marketing and sales industries.” Learn more about Michelle via her website here!


  • Pro Tip 9:

    A perfect LinkedIn profile is not everything, active use is key! Many executives now hire professional profile writers to develop perfectly optimized content for LinkedIn, and then expect instantaneous results. While it is true that a well-crafted profile will drive page views and generate increased employer and recruiter interest, this is only half of the equation. Make sure to continuously add relevant connections, interact with others on your network, like and share articles, and consider writing your own article using LinkedIn’s publishing tool. Completing some or all of these steps on a weekly basis can dramatically increase your exposure and will help drive interested parties to contact you.

  • LinkedIn, job search, job, career


  • Pro Tip 10:

    Use your LinkedIn profile to tell your professional story and communicate your personality. Resumes are often written in language that is not particularly warm or personable, but your profile does not have to be! Take the opportunity to really tell your story in an intriguing, fun and easy-to-read format. Doing so will provide hiring managers with a different perspective and additional information beyond what was presented on your resume. Most importantly, it should inspire them to reach out to you in order to learn more.


  • Pro Tip 11:

    Networking does not always have to take place digitally. Yes, in the age of social media we have all been lectured on the advantages of reaching out via electronic means, but there is still a place for person-to-person networking. There is still power in connecting face-to-face, and human interaction has the potential to hasten relationship building. In just a few minutes at a networking event we can establish stronger bonds than if we spent months communicating in online forums. After-hours professional networking events or career fairs targeted at executives are a great place to start and can be found through a quick and easy Google search.


  • Pro Tip 12:

    Tap your existing network of contacts. Many job search engines such as Indeed, CareerBuilder, ZipRecruiter and even LinkedIn would love for us to solely rely on their technology. While these are valuable tools, speaking directly to friends, professional acquaintances and recruiters can speed up a career search and lead to quicker results. Do not be afraid or embarrassed to inquire about opportunities or have someone put in a good word!


Tips 13 through 18 – General (Yet Relevant) Job Search Tips:

You have a great resume and a top-notch LinkedIn profile, so you are good to go, right? Well, having these tools are good, but a job search that produces ideal results may take a bit more. Applying these tools correctly and tightening up other key areas may make the difference between generating fast results and resigning yourself to a protracted effort.  


  • Pro Tip 13:

    Develop success oriented interview responses. While many sales and operations executives are comfortable with expressing results through quantifiable or qualitative means, others who do not regularly express accomplishments with hard figures can struggle to demonstrate the positive impact they have had in previous roles. If this sounds like you, consider talking about key projects, initiatives, improvements in efficiency and workflows, or other innovative contributions you have made which have garnered results. Be prepared to talk about these in a straightforward fashion when interviewing.


  • Pro Tip 14:

    Maintain an accurate and unified online presence across LinkedIn, other social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, etc.), job search sites, and on the internet in general. There are few things more detrimental than having false information posted in public view (i.e. much of the internet). At best it can be confusing, and it has the potential to make you look less than honest. If you share information on one platform make sure it jives with data that can be found elsewhere. For example, if you say you were employed at XYZ Company from 2000 to 2005, but a simple Google search reveals the company has been closed since 2003, you need to correct inaccuracies and synchronize the information.


Sage advice from Jessica Sweet, LICSW, Career Coach: “I talk to a ton of people with a lot of career success who decide for various reasons that they’re ready for a career change, but they aren’t sure which direction to go. One place to start to find direction is to ask: “What are your goals in making this change?” It’s a simple but powerful question. You may realize you’re looking for more money, more meaning… You are being pulled towards something. Or you may be being pushed away from your previous work… Whatever it is, it gives you a clue about where to go next and what your new goals might be. You may realize you need more work life balance and to find more meaning in whatever is next. That gives you some criteria to judge your next opportunity by.” Learn more about Jess via her website here!


  • Pro Tip 15:

    Execute a well-rounded job search. Many executives make the mistake of devoting all their time to one aspect of job search when it is important to attack from all angles. Leverage your network to track down leads. Hit up friends and connections to grab a coffee and chat with you about your career goals. Identify desirable positions online and complete online applications when applicable. Follow up on opportunities directly and do not just hope for the phone to ring. At the end of the day, it is never a good idea to put all your job search eggs in one basket.


  • Pro Tip 16:

    Prepare for interviews by reviewing answers to questions you may be asked, but also by proactively organizing a list of questions you want to pose to the interviewer. Keep in mind that the interview also serves as a mechanism for you to feel out the employer and working environment. Assemble a list of at least 5 intelligent, thoughtful, and position/company focused questions and strategize about how you will incorporate these important queries into the conversation.


  • Pro Tip 17:

    Invest in professional assistance and in yourself. While needs differ among professionals, many executives simply do not have the time to learn about hiring trends, application requirements, and resume or profile optimization. Services from resume writers, career coaches, search consultants and others may not be cheap, but the return on investment can be astounding. Here are two ways of looking at it:


    • If you expect to earn a salary of $200,000.00 per year, every month not working costs you $16,667.00 (or $3,846.00 per week). Highly experienced executive resume writers and career coaches can help their clients shave 2 to 3 months off a job search, saving their clients thousands of dollars.


    • Alternatively, consider this real-world example: a mediocre resume was generating interviews, but only for positions paying around $75,000.00 per year. After this individual invested in a resume and LinkedIn profile rebuild, he quickly received interviews and a job offer which paid nearly $200,000.00 annually. That is a $125,000.00 return on investment!


  • Pro Tip 18:

    Construct a complete (yet flexible) job search strategy, then give it the time it deserves. Whether you are going at it on your own or hiring professionals to help you assemble the tools needed for success, you should plan on scheduling time and dedicating effort to your job search. Many job seekers fail to do so properly, then drop the ball when it comes to application follow up, responding to messages or emails, interview preparation, and lead identification. Your job search does not have to be life consuming, but you should devote time daily to attend to the various activities which comprise your effort.


You owe it to yourself to get jump start on your career goals in 2018. An updated and optimized resume and LinkedIn profile, when used in conjunction with effective networking, professional guidance and a well-designed job seeking strategy, can open doors and generate exciting opportunities.


If you found this article helpful, please be sure to hit the like button and share it with your LinkedIn and other social media networks.


About the Authors:

Adam Zajac, NCRW is Chief Résumé and LinkedIn Profile Writer and Executive Career Strategist for Vocamotive, Inc. He is 1 of only 54 Nationally Certified Résumé Writers in North America and is an expert career development professional with over 12 years of industry experience. As a proud member of the National Résumé Writers’ Association and leader of the career development team at Vocamotive, he has successfully assisted thousands of job seekers, career changers, and business executives achieve their professional goals throughout the world.

Follow Adam on LinkedIn at:

Contact Adam via email at:  


Brittney Beck, NCRW, CCELW is a Senior Associate Résumé and LinkedIn Profile Writer and Recruitment Strategist for Vocamotive, Inc. She has an education in strategic communications, as well as considerable experience in writing, career development, and personal branding. Brittney is highly talented in assisting clients achieve their professional goals and materials she creates quickly result in interviews.

Follow Brittney on LinkedIn at:

Contact Brittney via email at:


Obtain professional Résumé and LinkedIn profile writing assistance by visiting Vocamotive’s website or by calling (630) 789-2519 to schedule a free consultation.


Follow Vocamotive on LinkedIn and Facebook and read Vocamotive’s Blog to hear about our latest career and resume development tips and offers!