Top 5 Ways to Land Your Next Job

Job hunting is stressful. We get so much advice about how to network properly, write the perfect resume, and wear the right clothes. All this advice seems to work well for the other guy or gal, but never for you. And then there is the waiting, and hoping, and stress. 

Part of this stress comes from the fact that much of the process seems out of our hands. But it is never out of our hands.

True professionals understand that while the decision of who to hire is always in the hands of the employer, the decision to be a professional is entirely up to us. And being a true professional always gets you better opportunities, better interviews, and that job that you really want.

With that in mind, consider these top 5 professional approaches to the job market that will help you land the job that you want, instead of waiting around for a job you think you need.

1. Be Selective 

The first step to landing a job is to know what kind of job you want. Many applicants, especially those just starting, blast their resume across any and every job they see. Sometimes they send their resumes and cover letters to hundreds of jobs a week, hoping to get a lucky bite from some desperate employer.

All the while, all they do is draw more rejections If they are lucky, they get some attention from employers hiring for positions that they don’t even want, wasting time and energy.

 Don’t do that.

 Use these two criteria to decide if you apply to a given job: do I want to do this, and am I competitive for it based on the job description and my experience? The answer should be ‘yes’ to both. Otherwise, you are using your focus and creativity to apply to jobs you won’t get, and don’t want if you get it. Which means less focused cover letters, generic resumes, and a pile of stress when you wonder why you never get the call back

 Spend that energy on the jobs you want and that you can get, and you will get better results in the long run.

2. Be Yourself

Stop rolling your eyes. This isn’t an empty affirmation. “Be yourself” means know yourself. Know your brand, know your professional identity, and put it into practice. Don’t hide behind jargon, skills, or platitudes (although these are important in their own right). Be enthusiastic about whatever position you apply for, and make sure it shows. 

The difference between an enthused applicant who fits the job, who wants the job, and who can articulate themselves for the job is the difference between someone who gets the interview and someone whose resume ends up in the trash.

 This also goes hand-in-hand with the previous advice: if you know what you want, who you are, and what you are looking for, then being yourself, being honest, and being excited about what you are doing is easy. What’s more, it’s infectious. That excitement is evident on application documents and in personal interviews, and cannot be discounted.

3. Tell a Story

Your resume, cover letter, and professional social media should tell a story about your career. What got you started, what excites you, where you’ve been and where you are going.

This is where a killer cover letter and resume come in. These documents are often the first impression you give, and they should absolutely tell a story about your professional life. A plain resume gives the logistics, but a truly killer resume and letter are ones that paint the picture in big bold words for the employer. 

Your job history should be a road map of accomplishment. Your bullet points should show how you lead, build, and excel. Your cover letter should express what kind of person you are, and give concrete examples of how that person is going to contribute to your new job.

 That doesn’t mean acting like something you aren’t. Even the driest, most straight-laced resume can tell a great story about accomplishments in a way that shows you are plugged in to your profession.

4. Network Like a Pro

Use social media. Leverage your friends and family. Get your name out there. If you know what you want to do, getting your resume in front of a hiring manager is half the battle. But, if you can get that information in front of them through an in-house reference or (even better) a recommendation from a fellow professional, then you are already head-and-shoulders above your competition. 

Networking shows that you are professional, trusted, and can work with other people. Professionals want to hire professionals, so show them that you are a professional. In many ways, that kind of presentation is more important than any specific skills you might have.

5. Get Help

Don’t count on your research to keep you competitive. For starters, have a network of professional colleagues that can critique your work. Their advice can be crucial for crafting killer materials.

More importantly, look to a professional development service that can help you build your package. Most all career advising firms provide resume and cover letter writing services. But, many now offer additional services like social media audits, LinkedIn profile building, and brand consulting and development. 

These experts can typically help you round out your entire professional networking profile so that your application looks great, your online presence is solid, and you are prepared for follow-up interviews.

 If you want to land that perfect job, don’t count on resume-blasting across multiple sites to get you there. Get help, identify your goals, and be prepared to tell your professional story in a way that marks you as a future professional.

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Optimizing Your Cover Letter to Get the Interview

The cover letter is, in many cases, just as important as your actual resume. A cover letter needs to make the case for you as a professional and a person. Unlike the resume, which is like the summary of your accomplishments, the cover letter serves as your first impression.

That said, there isn’t a universal method for writing professional cover letters. But here are a few cover letter tips to help optimize your letter so that is has a better chance of clearing application screening software and grabbing the attention of the reader, landing you that interview.

Research the Company

A generic cover letter is a guaranteed way to land your application in the trash. You need to tailor your cover letter to the specifications of the job ad, needs of the company, and the personality of the organization as a whole.

Make sure to read their website, looking for pages like

  • “Mission Statement”
  • “About Us”
  • Any descriptions or professional bios of employees
  • Blog posts or other articles

Also check out the LinkedIn profiles of staff, and see if you can find any reviews from customers, clients, or former employees.

 Spell out accomplishments that align with the values they communicate on these pages. Use the language they use, but make it so that you use that language to describe your own professional past and goals.

Make Sure the Letter Has Beginning, Middle, and End

A good cover letter should be easy to read, concise, and contain the following items:

  • Why you are interested in the position (or what you bring to it),
  • How your skills align with the job advertised, and
  • A call to action (why they should contact you).

Introduce yourself with a quick rundown of your skills and experience, and how they link to the job. Then, in a second paragraph, explain how your skills match the ones necessary for the job (and use concrete examples--ones from a previous job or jobs). Finally, conclude with a reason and invitation to contact you. 

In this way, the cover letter is much like a sales pitch: at the end, you are getting a potential client to call you for the interview.

Differentiate from the Resume

Your cover letter is not a mini-resume. It is a totally different document, meant to get someone to read your resume (or, at least, see you as a professional). You already included a resume, packed with all the great things you did at your previous job, so use the real estate of your cover letter to show personality and highlight something not already on the resume itself.

Don’t repeat yourself in the cover letter. Make it unique. Reference a story or an accomplishment that isn’t on the resume, or take something important and expand upon it.

Include Keywords Naturally

Job advertisements implicitly or explicitly include keywords that match desired qualifications. It may seem unprofessional to reuse those keywords on your resume or cover letter.

Use the keywords on your cover letter.

Keywords are necessary for multiple reasons. Most importantly, many companies now use application portals that include AI software to weed out applications that don’t specifically reference those keywords. 

More importantly, however, a hiring manager probably won’t find much interest in a cover letter that doesn’t mention any of the qualifications on the cover letter. If a job ad focuses on project management, for example, then it seems amateur to not mention project management experience in the cover letter. If you can’t find a place to mention project management, or you don’t have experience with it, rethink where you are spending your time and energy.

Work relevant keyword into the document so they pop out, without sounding forced. 

Provide Active, Quantitative Descriptions of Your Professional Background

Many of us write passively. While completely acceptable in many situations, in the world of short resumes and cover letters, active language works best. Your letter should address a potential reader with direct, active language. 

Passive language presents success as just “happening” around you, while active language denotes that you are the driver of that success. Provide examples of work with active construction:

Wrong: My successes are due to my skill in project management.

Right: I am a successful project manager. 

Show Your Personality… and Align It with Your New Job

The cover letter, unlike the resume, gives you a chance to write in your own voice, rather than in a bulleted list of accomplishments. You can include your enthusiasm, attitude, and excitement within a letter and help it stand out to the human readers that might take a glance at it. 

That being said, think about the culture of the company you are applying to. If you are writing for a professional corporation of non-profit, then a cocky or funny approach might not work as well as it would with a hip and young marketing agency. 

Be Yourself

Finally, never forget to be yourself. All the tricks and techniques used to get your killer application in front of hiring managers don’t matter if the documents aren’t actually you. Interviewers will see right through you if what you are on paper is not what you are in person. 

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Bootstrapping Your Career

When it comes to our careers, we all have to start somewhere. And, with contemporary technology being what it is, we have even more tools to develop those careers in productive ways. 

 Regardless of career or available tools, it can still prove intimidating. So here are a few things to consider when bootstrapping your career from scratch. 

Learn the Skills

The simplest, although by no means easiest, way to kickstart your career is to develop the relevant skills for your industry. If have finished (or are currently finishing) a college degree, then this is probably what you have been doing for the past 4+ years. Regardless of whether you are a graduate or simply moving in to a new career, you need to know what you are doing, and you need to be able to express that to potential employers. 

If there are particular software programs or platforms used by professionals in your field, learn them as much as you can. Find special deals on licenses so you can have some experience with the software. This is where a degree program also comes in handy, because often the school will purchase licenses for relevant software. 

If you aren’t a recent college graduate, you still have the internet, Amazon, and access to a library. If you are looking to bootstrap your career, leveraging these resources to get books and training materials to help you learn. So, learn the skills, and stay up-to-date with them.

Network for Free

There has never been a better time for networking then right now. The key to bootstrapping your career is leveraging networking opportunities in order to keep your name out there and show that you have potential as a professional. There are a few key ways to do this:

Read Blogs and Articles: Get to know the people in your industry by reading their blogs. Some will write on their own websites, guest post on larger magazine-style websites, or write on other platforms like Medium. These professionals will cover the interesting topics in your industry, including trends in employment and technology.

Use Social Media: Remember all those blogs you read? Find the authors on social media and follow them. Find out the professional circles and organizations they run with, and join them. Ask some questions in a public forum, and have conversations with people at different levels of experience. This is especially important for forums targeting your profession, or social media platforms built specifically for networking (like LinkedIn).  

 Attend Conferences: Conference attendance can still provide a top-notch way of networking with other professionals. If you are short on cash, be selective, or find out if there are any gatherings near you. Attend panels, ask questions, make contacts. 

Learn the Industry

You can’t get started with a career if you don’t know the industry you’re getting in to. You can’t write effective resumes if you don’t know what potential employers and colleagues want, and you can’t just jump into an industry without a learning curve.

So, attack the learning curve by learning the industry.  

This sounds like a redundancy of the first two points, but it extends much further than that. Learn about the long-term trends in hiring and labor in that field. Become an expert not simply of your job, but your future career 5 or 10 years down the road.

Then, write a resume and cover letter for that 5 to 10-year job. See what skills and talents are there. See what kind of experience is there. And then learn about the potential paths people take to get there. Is it all corporate work? Do you freelance or contract out? Is there a bigger market in smaller firms or at-home businesses? 

Prepare to Work

One thing you have that’s the most valuable thing to you is your work. To really bootstrap your career, you’re going to have to put in the hours learning, networking, and producing. This is where all the practical labor comes in.

Write a resume and cover letter for your dream jobs.

Plan an interview and practice answering questions in the mirror or in front of colleagues who will give you honest advice. 

Reach out to individuals in positions you want to work in, and as if they are open to an invitational interview. Provide informative and interesting questions for them. 

If you’ve networks, studied, and planned, then these practical tasks will fall into place much easier. 

It isn’t easy, but people start their own careers with little too few resources every single day. With these steps, there is no reason you can’t do the same. 

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Top 10 Resume Mistakes

Do not let the stress of hunting for a job lead to simple errors. Make life easier for you by preparing yourself for the job market by eliminating common errors. This not only sets you up for an easier job hunt, it can make the entire experience a much more positive one overall.

One way to make the search easier is to have high-quality documents on hand to use for applications. If you want to make sure that your job search is not in vain, then pay attention to and avoid the following mistakes that will land your resume in the recycling bin.

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1. Leaving Typos and Misspellings

The number one problem that many applicants fail to avoid is grammar and typing mistakes. This is understandable: after staring at a document for a while, finding random misspellings and typos can become a huge challenge. But it is essential that you, or someone close to you, reads every word of your resume to catch any problems. Sending in something less than spotless signals that you don’t care about the position, or have no attention to detail.

2. Including Inconsistent Punctuation and Formatting

You can’t brag about your attention to detail if your resume doesn’t display that attention. Your resume needs to be consistent: pick a coherent color scheme, use the same style of bullets across the entire document, and do not change fonts mid-section. 

If you can’t maintain a coherent structure across a single page, then how do you convince a hiring manager you can do so every day on the job?

3. Providing Examples, not Accomplishments

A general rule of thumb for resumes: use action verbs to describe your experience.  

It’s cliché, but unavoidably true.

Descriptions that don’t focus on action tend to lack emphasis on what youdid, instead describing what you were. Which is a problem, because prospective employers want to know your value to previous employers, not your job title.

Show what you did with verbs that denote activity, accomplishment, and leadership.

​4. Providing Flat Experience Descriptions

If you are too bored to describe your previous professional accomplishments with any excitement, don’t expect a recruiter to be anything but bored with you.

 Action verbs only take you so far. Use active language that shows that you drove innovation and success. Use words that suggest leadership. Find words that describe what you did, but sound enthusiastic about your previous work (and the people you did it with). 

5. Not Including Keywords

The resume is about you. But it’s also about the company and the position. Job advertisements contain keywords describing the job - either implicitly as part of the description or explicitly in a “keywords” or “qualifications” section. Your resume should contain these words somewhere, no matter if it is part of your experience or in your professional summary. If the recruiter or the application screening software can’t pick up on keywords that aren’t there, then you might as well not have applied in the first place. 

6. Not Including Relevant Skills

Job advertisements typically include the skills and qualifications they want. Make sure that you focus on these in multiple places throughout your document. For starters, include a “Skills” section that lists your hard skills, software known, or programming languages that you have learned. Furthermore, your job experience bullets should absolutely mention any of the hard and soft skills listed. Use that space as a place to show where you put your skills in action, to show that you know why those skills are valuable.

7. Providing Too Much Information

If you are brand new in your industry and your resume is 3 pages long, you are providing too much information. A resume is not your life story… it is a blueprint for your experience and potential. Resumes should be clean, easy to read, and have clear sections with just enough information to give the recruiter an idea of how you fit the job description.

8. Using a Generic “Objective Statement” Over an In-Depth Summary

Many resume templates include a generic objective like: 

Motivated project manager seeking a position in leadership for an innovative software company.

There is a reason they include these for templates: because they aren’t meant to actually be there. If you have an objective that looks anything like this, delete it and write a targeted summary that states your job title, 1-3 skills, and the position and company you are applying for.

An objective statement doesn’t do much for resumes. They simply state what you want, rather than what you do or what you bring to the table. The only thing worse than an objective is a generic one. 

9.  Presenting a Resume That is Over (or Under)

Graphic design applicants shouldn’t necessarily turn in a plain black-and-white resume, and professional corporate applicants might now want to submit a resume full of distracting and unnecessary design elements. A good resume fits the position and the industry, so if your industry is creative and artistic, a creative resume might suit you well. But if you are applying to a desk-oriented job with 100 additional applicants, your multi-colored, alternative resume might irritate a hiring manager, rather than intrigue them.

10. Including Gaps in Work Experience

 If you have significant gaps in your employment history, do not include them in your job experience. It leads to questions of drive, motivation, or employability. If possible, omit jobs that might show a gap, especially if they are jobs from a while ago when you were in school or between life events (moving, family, etc.). Also, just because you weren’t “employed” doesn’t mean you weren’t working: list any freelance or contract work you did, which shows that while you didn’t have a traditional employer, you were still producing value for clients. 

Sometimes, however, this is unavoidable. In which case, don’t lie about gaps. Just be prepared to honestly discuss why you may have a gap in employment. 

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Top 10 Things To Prepare For The Job Market

You’ve graduated. Or maybe you’re ready to jump back into the labor pool, or into a new career. In any case, you’re entering the realm of the job market: a competitive space where dozens or hundreds of individuals are vying for the same spots. 

It isn’t all competition and stress. Navigating the job market, when done properly, can be an incredibly fun and enlightening process. You’ll learn more about yourself as a professional, and more about your goals and interests. 

In order to get the most out of the process, however, you have to be prepared. Here are ten ways to get prepared and take the scramble out of the application process.

1. Learn the Appropriate Skills and Technology

Most industries have key skills and technologies that they look for. It could be the case that certain jobs have used the same key software for years, or that professionals in the field are moving to new platforms. In either case, knowing what those skills and technologies are not only helps put you in front of hiring managers for interviews, but shows that you know the field.

If you’ve just graduated from a college that teaches you these skills, great. If not, find out ways to get your hands on the programs or books that will help you get the knowledge you need.

2. Develop Your Social Media Brand

Recruiters and hiring managers will often search out the social media profiles of potential job candidates. If your social media accounts are free of incriminating or unprofessional behavior, then your job prospects go way down. More importantly, however, if you have a helpful, attractive, and coherent brand across all your social media channels, then your job prospects go way up. Don’t sell this aspect of the job hunt short.

3. Practice Your Interview Skills

Interviews are controlled experiences, and recruiters and hiring managers are looking not only for someone who fits their job description, but who can think on their feet, who have personality, and who fit the mission and environment of the company. So, then, practicing your interview skills means a couple of things: first, you need to be able to respond to some basic questions--why you want to work there, what are your strengths and weaknesses, what do you offer the company. 

4. Write Top-Notch Application Documents for Your Intended Profession

This is obvious, but bears repeating. Your resume and cover letter should be flawless, top-notch documents that hit a number of different potential jobs in your industry. 

Here is an exercise to prepare: find three of your favorite jobs, ideally ones that are different contexts than the others-like a corporate job vs. an agency job. Write resumes specifically for those jobs as templates for the kind of work you want. Edit, edit, edit, until they are perfect. Then, when you apply to different jobs that are similar, you can tailor your materials so that they fit the jobs in question.

5. Groom, Dress, and Act Like a Professional

You are looking to get a job in your profession, and you should act like it. It isn’t the case that you get the job,then you are a professional. Ever heard the phrase dress for the job you want, not the one you have? There is truth to this. 

Before you even begin looking for a job, develop your dressing and grooming, whatever look you want to have and that fits the jobs sought. This is generally a good idea regardless, but make sure you have clean clothing, suits, clean shave, groomed hair, etc. No matter what, you should be able to show up anywhere looking like the professional you are. 

6. Research, Research, Research

Know the jobs you want, and know the profession you are entering. Find ideal jobs that you want, dream jobs, and research their mission, their operations, and the people they hire. Look at competitors, look at what people say about working there. Identify common tech and skills in that profession associated with those jobs. 

7. Shore Up Soft Skills

It is easy to get caught up in knowing the right tech or having the right keywords on a resume, but never forget your soft skills. Sometimes these can sound down right generic, but skills in collaboration, communication, and strategic thinking are things that every employer wants, regardless of the profession. 

But you can’t just say that you can do these things, because recruiters will see right through it. Clearly note in your professional background and documents where you demonstrated leadership, communication, project management, and teamwork skills. These show that you can do more than just the practical aspects of the job: you can lead and rise up the ladder, benefiting the company. 

8. Get Flexible

Don’t be so married to a particular job, position, or outcome that you lose sight of the forest for the trees. Open up your expectations and see the bigger picture in your field. There are jobs and companies that you may never have heard of, doing things you never dreamed. Don’t let opportunity pass you by because you are too connected to a single path.

9. Increase Your Network

Always network. LinkedIn, social media, conferences, whatever… if you aren’t expanding your network, you’re missing out on opportunities.

10. Get Real on the Career You Want

All of us have to have a “come to the light” moment regarding what it is we actually want. Don’t waste time doing the things you think you need to do. Recruiters and hiring managers don’t just want bodies in seats, they want excited employees who share their goals and expectations. If you are buried under the weight of landing a job you don’t want, or following a path that doesn’t really excite you, that comes through.

Look for the career you want, not the one you think you need.


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Top 10 Social Media Mistakes

Professionals at all steps in their career are leveraging social media to develop their professional profiles. This unfortunately doesn’t mean that everyone has a critical literacy on how their behaviors on social media can reflect poorly on them when they try to network or apply for a job.

 It’s never too late to start implementing good habits, and that means eliminating bad habits from your social media presence. Here are ten common mistakes professionals make on social media that you can stop doing to immediately improve the quality of your professional social media presence. 

1. Posting Irresponsible or Poor-Quality Content

Recruiters search social media to immediately get a sense of a candidate’s behavior. Typically, you have two options. First, professionally maintain your personal social media accounts at all times. That means, at minimum, to present yourself in the best light possible for employers. Second, if you have an extremely personal social media account, clean it or lock it as private, and set up an additional professional account.  

The concern isn’t simply that you’ve posted incriminating or just unprofessional information. Job recruiters might not necessarily care that you posted drunk pictures of yourself ten years ago. But they do care that, in the present, you don’t have the wherewithal to remove these photos from public view. Likewise, if you post controversial opinions or engage in highly charged, polarizing debates, it may turn off recruiters who want to promote a harmonious work environment.

2. Never Updating Your Profiles…

If you do have a professional social media account, it doesn’t help if you never update it. We are all guilty of this, of course, and in certain jobs this isn’t much of an issue. But in terms of networking, some people don’t want to form a relationship with someone who isn’t active in the field. And that doesn’t include additional problems with professional profiles that do not include current employment information or updated skills and endorsements.

 ...Or, Updating Too Much

On the flip side of that coin, if you do nothing but post content on your social media all day, it's likely that you aren’t really being productive elsewhere. Don’t send the signal that you spend 95% of your day working on social media unless you’re job specifically involves doing just that. And, of course, avoid presenting repetitive daily information with no filter or sense of audience.

3. Providing Incoherent Branding

One of the biggest benefits of building a social media presence is controlling the presentation of your brand. Developing a personal brand is your chance to show off who you are as a professional, what you have accomplished, and what you want to achieve. Messaging, content, and look are all important for presenting a professional package.

But if your Facebook is all business, and your Twitter is all football or nightlife, then the chances that people interested in networking actually coming across your profile reduces. If you are going to have professional social media, then make sure that you are presenting your best on all your channels.

4. Lacking Professional Focus

Some people mix personal and professional topics on their social media channels, and that is fantastic for industries where the personal and the professional don’t necessarily clash (or, in some cases, where they actually enhance one another). Your social media doesn’t have to be all business (and it shouldn’t!) but try to create some separation between your personal life and your professional life if they are radically different.  

When these aspects are more distinct, you can focus your professional branding into a more coherent message based on your goals and your industry. You also reduce the chances of sending mixed messages by making your professional platform a personal or political one.

5. Engaging in Poor Networking

Social media was custom built for networking. Some platforms work much better for this (LinkedIn, Facebook) if you understand the norms and rules of the platform. 

For example, one thing to understand is that “networking” is not “connecting with hundreds of people that you don’t know”. It is reaching out to people who share goals and interests, and with whom you can have a productive, mutually beneficial, and friendly relationship. 

When you network, find people that work in your industry (or really, people who do things you find interesting). Reach out to them, send them a message, offer advice or ask a question. Offer something of value, and show that you are interested in a relationship. LinkedIn in particular promotes strategic networking, as frequent, unwanted connecting can result in restrictions to your account.

 It also helps if your content generation and branding is on point: potential networks can see that you are the real deal, and not someone just trying to get something from them. 

6. Posting the Same Content on Multiple Platforms

One of the biggest benefits of building a social media presence is controlling the presentation of your brand. Developing a personal brand is your chance to show off who you are as a professional, what you have accomplished, and what you want to achieve. Messaging, content, and look are all important for presenting a professional package.

But if your Facebook is all business, and your Twitter is all football or nightlife, then the chances that people interested in networking actually coming across your profile reduces. If you are going to have professional social media, then make sure that you are presenting your best on all your channels.

7. Lacking Professional Focus

Some people mix personal and professional topics on their social media channels, and that is fantastic for industries where the personal and the professional don’t necessarily clash (or, in some cases, where they actually enhance one another). Your social media doesn’t have to be all business (and it shouldn’t!) but try to create some separation between your personal life and your professional life if they are radically different. 

When these aspects are more distinct, you can focus your professional branding into a more coherent message based on your goals and your industry. You also reduce the chances of sending mixed messages by making your professional platform a personal or political one.

8. Engaging in Poor Networking

Social media was custom built for networking. Some platforms work much better for this (LinkedIn, Facebook) if you understand the norms and rules of the platform.  

For example, one thing to understand is that “networking” is not “connecting with hundreds of people that you don’t know”. It is reaching out to people who share goals and interests, and with whom you can have a productive, mutually beneficial, and friendly relationship. 

When you network, find people that work in your industry (or really, people who do things you find interesting). Reach out to them, send them a message, offer advice or ask a question. Offer something of value, and show that you are interested in a relationship. LinkedIn in particular promotes strategic networking, as frequent, unwanted connecting can result in restrictions to your account.

It also helps if your content generation and branding is on point: potential networks can see that you are the real deal, and not someone just trying to get something from them. 

9. Posting the Same Content on Multiple Platforms

If you run a blog, it is OK to post a link across your social media channels. If you write a short response to something, or share an interesting link, it is most definitely not OK to spam it across those channels. “Spam” is the correct word here, because anyone who follows you on multiple social media sites will get spammed with the same content multiple times a day, most likely to their irritation. Pay attention to your audience on each channel and share accordingly.

10. Exhibiting Antisocial Behavior

It is called social media for a reason.  

This means two things. First, make connections. Offer value. Provide insight, commentary, and help. Be a good community member.

Second, don’t engage in online debates or harassment. Don’t “troll”. Don’t make connections to random people that don’t know you and don’t work in your field to inflate your network. 

Third, exhibit traits that don’t contribute to working with others. You may not bother anyone posting long walls of negative text criticizing everything under the sun, but potential co-workers don’t want to work with people like that.

Like real life, always be friendly, and always be polite, and always contribute.

Not Building a Linking Strategy

Maintaining a coherent brand is great, but it doesn’t matter if people can’t find your platform outside of a single media channel. If you run a blog, a reader should be able to find a link to the blog across all your social media. Your website and LinkedIn should also link to all social media (including your blog, or any long-form writing you do on Medium or similar outlets).

And, when you create content or comment on someone else’s content, always mention and link to that content. Make sure that you share links with other content creators as you engage them. It’s great help for the people reading, and it gives a little SEO love to those creators who might also need the spotlight.

Making it All About You

The biggest misunderstanding of social media is that it is all about us. Think of social media as a digital conversation. If you aren’t talking with people, sharing ideas, and contributing to other people’s wants or needs, you are not properly maintaining good social media practices. 

Write about your own experience, but direct professional insight outwards. Provide helpful information. Develop relationships with others based on community and assistance, rather than reporting on your own life. 

Social Media Review

Let Career Operative help you get your social media ready for your career search. 

Top 10 Cover Letter Mistakes

Along with the resume, your cover letter will be the first thing a recruiter sees of your application. So, obviously, you should spend some time on it and make it perfect, right?

Nobody's perfect, of course. Mistakes happen. But many of us would be surprised at the simple mistakes many make on their cover letters. In a competitive hiring environment, the applications that move forward for interviews are the ones that don’t have these mistakes. The rest, unfortunately, end up in the trash. 

To get you started, here are ten common, and easily avoidable, cover letter mistakes that can sink an application.

1. Typos, Misspellings, and lack of Proofreading

Just getting this out of the way. You may think this goes without saying, but since proofreading and review are still common issues reported by recruiters, we’re saying it. The cover letter should be error-free. Proofread. 

Have your friends proofread. 

And proofread again.

2. No Clear Beginning, Middle, and End

For ease of reading, a cover letter should have an introduction, a middle paragraph about your fit with the job, and a closing paragraph with a thank you, a salutation and invitation to contact you.

There are variations depending on the audience and industry. But cover letters are supposed to be easy to read, and straying from a skim-able format makes reading much, much harder. This model should illustrate that the cover letter is short and to the point. Get in, entice the reader, and get out.

3. Not Addressing the Advertised Job or the Hiring Company

A good, targeted cover letter should address the company and the job posting for two primary reasons.

First, a generic cover letter gets no results. If you write a letter for a job and it doesn’t talk about the job itself, the values of the hiring company, or key phrasing regarding the industry or advertised skills, a recruiter is going to throw your application in the trash.

Second, many application portals include software that scans cover letters and resumes for keywords relevant to the job. If you target your resume for the job and company, you have a much better chance of getting past these screening measures.

4. Using Strange, Archaic, or Improper Introductions

We aren’t used to writing professional letters these days, and introducing yourself in one can be incredibly awkward unless you’ve done it a few times. 

That being said, a good rule of thumb is to be natural, avoiding overly-formal language. Don’t open your letter like you are writing home from war. Write as if you were composing a note to a colleague. Opening with a simple introduction, followed by the purpose of the letter, is a good baseline to start without sounding archaic or stiff.

5. Providing Too Much Information

A hiring manager or recruiter will read potentially hundreds of applications for a job. Understandably, they won’t want to read the condensed version of your life story in a cover letter. They want the elevator pitch. The easier you make your cover letter to read (through brevity and conciseness) the better.

Focus on introducing yourself, providing contact information, and articulating what you would bring to the company.

6. Not Stating Your Fit for the Specific Job

The cover letter should, at its heart, highlight the key reason you’re great for this job. The middle paragraph in particular should discuss what it is you are bringing to the table, highlighting any key values or skills.

These skills and values should map directly onto desired skills and values listed by the job advertisement and on the company website. Make the connection between your talents and the needs and goals of the company sound natural, but make the connection explicit.

7. Lacking Personal Introductions

Most times, you won’t know who your letter will reach. In this case, a simple “Dear Hiring Manager” works. But, do your research and find out if there is a hiring manager or committee head. Sometimes, information like this will be part of the job ad. In the case of a smaller company, this might simply be an owner or high-level manager. If there is a contact name on the job advertisement, or the company has a small staff with an obvious contact, address them by name.

​8. Repeating Information on the Resume

Don’t repeat the resume. The cover letter should provide additional information, and it should be giving a super-high level of context for your application. And, it should stand on its own.  Highlight key events or accomplishments not fleshed out in that resume. Provide them here in a way you can link to core needs of the company.

9. Making it About You, Not Them

You’re awesome, we know. They’d love to have you. 

But please, make the case for how you can contribute to their operation. Be modest, and frame this information in terms of how they can benefit. Don’t talk about how much you love their company or service. They may, in an interview, ask what you want to work with them, but right now you are making the case for why they should want you, which means telling them what you can do for them.

  10. Providing Irrelevant Information

Likewise, one way to drag out a cover letter is to talk about irrelevant information. Applying for a graphic arts positions? Then your letter should talk about your passion and accomplishment in graphics arts, not your job managing the electronics section of a department store. You may be proud of that job, but it isn’t what the hiring manager wants to see.

Keep it powerful, short, and laser-focused on the job at hand.

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Written By Career Operative's Branding Experts

What is an Executive Brand, and Why is it Important

What is an Executive Brand an Why is it Important?

Taking your work to the next level often means moving up the promotional ladder. You may have developed an excellent reputation and a serious set of skills in your industry, but that doesn’t mean you’ll always get the opportunities you want while working as a mid-level employee. You want to do more--maybe manage projects, or manage operations that require more than technical skills. You want responsibility and leadership opportunities… the chance to drive projects that interest you. 

So you move up to the executive level.

But your job prospects don’t end there. Working at the C-Level in your profession is less about “work” and more about management: project management, team management, company management. Because of this, you have to take into account your own desires. What kind of projects do you want to get off the ground? What kind of work environment do you want to cultivate? 

In order to maximize your opportunities, you need to have an effective brand.

Does My Job Search End at the Executive Level?

Short answer: no. Just because you’ve reached a high level of management and responsibility doesn’t mean you’ve hit the end of the line. But it does mean that the rules of the game have changed slightly. At this level, organizations don’t want an employee: they want a leader, a coordinator, and perhaps even a visionary. That means that your media needs to reflect who you are as a professional brand.

For example, you may find yourself developing more as you work in the executive arena. You may want to take on different challenges or leadership opportunities, which necessitate a move to a different company, or different style of business (corporate to start-up, for example). In these cases, the leadership you display in one position might present you with new opportunities in other positions with other organizations. 

Also developing a brand and staying up-to-date with the current job market helps you keep on top of what is happening in your industry. If you want to attract the best employees, or find the most interesting projects to work on, then maintaining a brand is important to keep your fingers on the pulse. 

Do I Still Need a Resume and Cover Letter?

Of course. Executives of any level typically have resumes, for when they decide to make the move from one position to another. 

This isn’t because resumes are some test of their abilities: often, executives will have a reputation of some sort. But that doesn’t preclude having an actual, paper resume that discusses your accomplishments.  

But there is something more concrete for executives when it comes to resumes and cover letters--they illustrate a professional brand built over years of work. A solid professional resumes shows a trajectory of development in core competencies like leadership and vision. It shows not only that you can manage complex and fluid business situations, but that you already have.

But How Do I Build an Executive Resume?

In many ways, writing an executive resume is much like writing any other resume, with a few key differences:

  1. Executive resumes can be longer. Considering that you are looking for a position as a very advanced member of your industry, one with the skills to manage projects and teams at their largest and most abstract scales, it stands to reason that your resume reflect the skills that you have over years of experience. A 2-3 page resume provides a solid overview of your experience without going too long.
  2. Executive resumes are about accomplishments, not history. Some recruiters at the low- to mid-level range look to see if your resume is in chronological order, and that they can trace an uninterrupted work history. For the executive level, you want to put your skills and brand first, and fill in the details. Lean towards a hybrid chronological/functional resume for flexibility and presentation, rather than using one or the other.
  3. Emphasize your brand and value proposition. Again, your resume isn’t about technical skills or job histories (although they do play a part), it is about your ability to contribute to the success of a company. In that case, what other executives want to see in a resume is that you know your value and how it contributes to them.

You don’t have to be an expert at this kind of document writing just because your an executive. For advice and guidance, work with a career management firm that specializes in executive resumes, social media audits, and/or brand consultations.

What About Social Media and the Web?

Yes! Don’t forget about your social media presence. At the very least, you should, as an executive, have a top-notch LinkedIn profile that represents you and the positions you’ve held. An executive should have plenty of ways to discuss their professional development over time, and the LinkedIn profile is theplace to do this. If your personal brand is a web-savvy one embedded in digital industries like marketing or advertising, then it would stand to reason that you also be heavily involved in those additional platforms (like Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook). 

Also, don’t sell writing and thought-leadership short. If you work in a field that benefits from sharing information and networking, then keep a blog. Write about your industry from the position of a long-term professional, and highlight it on your social media channels.

Cultivate your social media by observing what others in similar situations do. Do what they do, but also don’t be afraid to break away from the norm if it sets you apart in a positive way. Also, look for help in assessing your current online brand with a company that specializes in auditing social media channels. There are actually experts out there that excel in helping others coordinate their personal brand across all their media channels. 

 Ideally, you like your job. Right now, however, you might think that branding yourself in the long run is just too much effort. But here are two things to consider:

Executive Branding as a Lifestyle?

  1. A brand doesn’t have to be a life, just a lifestyle. Staying on top of your professional game and putting yourself out there are what make executives attractive for positions: they are natural leaders who work hard and integrate their personal and professional lives.
  2. A brand doesn’t have to be something you do alone. Hire a company to help you build your brand the right way, so all you have to do is focus on is managing it.

Once you have a strong, executive brand in place, you’ll draw more opportunities and more chances to do the work you want to do.

Standard Branding Package

The standard executive package includes everything that you need to start your executive search. 



  • 3 Page Executive Resume 
  • 4 Day Turnaround*
  • 45 Minute Branding Session 
  • Cover Letter 
  • Thank You Letter 
COMPLETE Branding Package

Master your executive search with all the tools you need to run your job search.  The complete package includes a resume variation so you can tailor your search. 



  • 3 Page Executive Resume
  • 4 Day Turnaround*
  • 60 Minute Branding Session
  • Cover Letter
  • Thank You Letter
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    LinkedIn Profile 
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    Executive Bio
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    1 Resume Variation 
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    Reference List

Top 10 LinkedIn Mistakes

​​LinkedIn is the go-to social platform for professionals looking to develop their careers. LinkedIn helps experts network across the world, and serves as a pool for recruiters and hiring companies to draw from when they need to make a hire. 

 That means that you can never, ever take it for granted. The only thing worse than not having a LinkedIn profile is having one that makes you look lazy or like an amateur. With that in mind, here are 10 common mistakes to avoid when building your profile.

1. Using An Unprofessional Photo

Like many social media platforms, LinkedIn encourages users to provide an self-portrait. Unlike other social media platforms, however, LinkedIn is for professional networking and not for sharing pictures from your vacation. So, forget using the shot of you fishing in the Gulf of Mexico (unless fishing is your business), and include a professional headshot. If you don’t have a professional headshot, get one.

2. Writing A Short or Non-Existence Summary

The headline and summary are the first thing that people read, they are also the sections that catch the attention of LinkedIn search results. Potential recruiters or network connections should be able to get a glimpse of your skills, goals, current profession or job, and personality by reading these key items. If they can’t, then rewrite them so that at least these basics are in there. Make sure to use keywords that denote your skills, and technology you use, and any companies you previously worked (or currently work) for.

3. Using Generic Language

Avoid generic language. Catchphrases, keywords, and empty references (“excellence”, “motivated”) hurt more than they help. Much like a resume, a LinkedIn profile should convey actionable, quantifiable information about you and your professional success. This goes for the summary as well as any job descriptions. Treat this as an extended, digital resume and write accordingly. If a potential contact can’t tell what it is that you do or what you accomplished, then they are less likely to spend any time on you.

4. Forgetting To List Relevant Skills

Do not forget to list skills. Any and all that you are proficient with. This includes software, hardware, soft skills (communication, project management, leadership roles), and any certifications or licenses you have. Do not forget any of these, because some people will search LinkedIn specifically for skill sets, that show up during site-wide searches.  You don’t want to remain invisible because you didn’t take the time to list one of your hard-learned talents.

5. Providing Incomplete Job History on Your Profile

Much like a resume, LinkedIn allows you to provide a work history. Avoid gaps in employment, and clearly articulate all your positions in a chronological order. Write descriptions of your previous work in detail, using action verbs, and highlighting concrete results, positions of responsibility, and awards received. 

6. Providing Too Little Information On Your LinkedIn Profile

A LinkedIn page that doesn’t have enough information is like a resume that just has a name and phone number on it. Your LinkedIn profile will not attract potential connections or employers if they show up to your page and can’t learn a thing about you. Spend some time to really think about what it is you are writing, and include as much information about yourself as you can. Include your skills at the bottom, and ask connections to endorse you. Join communities aligned with your professional goals, because that shows up on your page as well. Write a solid, 400-500 word summary of yourself. 

7. Too Little or Too Much information On Your Profile

However, there is such a thing as too much information. A good summary can be a single paragraph or two, but after that you are asking a lot of a reader. Likewise, job descriptions shouldn’t be a page long. Brevity and precision are key for LinkedIn. Grab attention, convey your professional accomplishments, but skip the life story. 

​8. Not Making Connections On LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a networking platform. Unlike other social media, it isn’t necessary to have thousands of friends, but nor is it acceptable to have 4 connects over two years. It illustrates that you aren’t reaching out and networking, which portrays you as someone who doesn’t understand the importance of networking, or someone who simply cannot make productive, professional connections.  Set a realistic goal for adding contacts to LinkedIn.  Here are a few tips to quickly grow your network.

Send meeting invites to people you work with or have worked with in the past.  

If your in school or addending a training course or conference turn those meeting into connections on LinkedIn.

All things in moderation, however. Don’t spam connections to complete strangers. Write content for LinkedIn (or share other professional content you develop) and reach out to communities and individuals in your profession. Make a connection with you worth their while by providing value.

9. Lazy Errors On Your LinkedIn Profile

Spelling and punctuation are death to professionals. Like the resume and cover letter, read and proofread, and have someone else read. No errors. 

  10. Not Conveying Any Personality In Your LinkedIn Profile

Not everything is about dry business prose. The best LinkedIn profiles have a voice and a perspective. They are more than just the sum of their facts and experiences. They are a representation of a living professional who has goals and dreams. Your LinkedIn profile should balance between professionalism and personality, and should always speak with enthusiasm, excitement, and confidence. 

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Importance of a good resume!

Importance of a Good Resume 

Resumes are some of the most well-known, and misunderstood, professional documents in the business world. Seemingly simply and formulaic, resumes provide potential employers a chance to see your professional “big picture”. But that means that you need to provide a solid resume that puts your best foot forward. This is why a good resume is important. Simple errors or difficult layouts can frustrate hiring managers, and hide what are probably the great qualifications you bring to the table. 

When writing your resume, keep the three following points in front of your mind to increase your chances of a call.

A Good Resume Makes a Good, Relevant First Impression

 A good resume doesn’t just list jobs and degrees. It provides a narrative of your accomplishments and interests, a summary that a recruiter can skim and understand without knowing your whole life story.  Imagine taking years of history and condensing it into 1-2 pages. Would you try to explain every detail? No. You’d pick the highlights and … well, highlight them.  When it comes to writing a resume, pick the most important, and relevant, aspects of your professional career. Make sure that the impression you make reflects a knowledge of the hiring company, but also expresses your career trajectory. 

 Finally, a resume should be grammatically perfect and consistent. A good resume shows that you care about the job, you pay attention to details, and that you can navigate the professional world. In short, a good resume assures recruiters that no matter your experience level, you are no amateur.

A Good Resume Conveys Your Skills, Education, and Experience… Without the Fluff

Resumes provide limited space for verbiage, and for good reason: hiring managers want to see the highlights, not read the novel. After reading dozens or hundreds of resumes, who can blame them when they just want to know if you fit the job description.  A good resume focuses on the quantitative results of your success. It provides rock-solid results for your new prospective employer that they can use to decide about whether or not to bring you in for an interview.

 This is all important because, by providing a concise resume, you show that you understand your professional value, but respect the company and the staff by providing evidence of why you are a good fit with them. 

A Good Resume Shows Your Professionalization in Your Field

One of the worst things you can do, unless you are completely new to your field, is present yourself as an amateur. “Beginner” is different than “amateur” in that the former is someone who knows their craft and is ready to navigate the professional world, where the second is someone who is just happy to get a job. 

 A good resume is one that shows that an applicant knows the business, at least enough to have an idea about how a professional resume should look and what to emphasize. This includes the content and the design. A graphic designer sending a resume full of images, design elements, and creative artwork might nail down an interview with a hip and cutting-edge ad agency, but might never get a call from a more corporate-driven work environment. In the second case, it isn’t lack of skill that landed that resume into the junk pile: it is a lack of professionalization and understanding in terms of what kind of job they were applying for. 

A Good Resume Lands the Interview

Considering all of the above, just assume one thing: that the resume is only the first step of an interview process. But it is a crucial one, one that you can’t take for granted. A good resume will get through application filtering software and convince a recruiter that you fit the job as an employee and as a personality.  If you are serious about a position, then a good resume that demonstrates your value, skill, and understanding of the job and the company, is the difference between an interview and radio silence. So, if you want to make it through to that next step, then make sure you send in a good resume. 

Let us help you craft a professional resume!

Mid-Career Resume

Mid-Career resumes are important for showing the growing responsibilities and skill you have obtained over time. 



  • 20 Minute Phone Interview 
  • 1-2 Page Resume
  • 4 Business Day Turnaround*
Professional Resume

Tell your story with a professional resume written by an industry expert designed to connect you with your next opportunity. 



  • 30 Minute Phone Interview
  • 2-3 Page Resume
  • 4 Business Day Turnaround*