Resume Help, Resume Advice. Learn
and avoid these biggest resume mistakes

Full Tips and Techniques

1) Be Specific. Have Focus in your job/career search.

Looking for a job? Great. Don’t know what kind of job you want? Not so great.

One of the biggest mistakes made my job seekers is a lack of focus. You can’t expect to land your dream job if you are not sure what your dream job is, right? I know, it sounds simple, but often, job seekers come to me distraught with a lack of progress.

Here are some common job seeker complaints:

“I sent my resume to 100 companies and I haven’t heard back from anyone.”

“I’ve interviewed at five companies in the last week and nothing seemed to stick.”

“I’m looking at all the job sites but I’m not finding anything I’m interested in. Help!”

If you find yourself saying or thinking any of the above while on your job search, you are not alone. So many people on the job market start out confused – they don’t know what they want, they lack clear goals, and they aren’t sure where they belong.

Unfortunately, you’ve got to know where you want to go before you can get there. Likewise, you will be hard-pressed to convince someone to hire you if you don’t believe you belong with his or her organization in the first place.

What is the solution? Narrowing your focus.

Yes, I know. Narrowing your focus may be easier said than done. However, getting clear on what kind of job you want, what industry you want to work in and where you want to end up in five years from now is essential to landing a job you will love.

So, how should narrow your focus? Research, research, research (and a little soul-searching helps a lot, too). Before you can decide where and in what capacity you want to work, you have to get familiar with all the different opportunities out there.

Do you love managing people and interacting with the public but dislike working in a corporate environment? You might love managing a hotel or a restaurant. Do you have a passion for the arts but don’t consider yourself a creative artist? You may love working in a marketing capacity for a museum or an independent radio station.

The possibilities are endless. Literally. Figure out what they are, and then narrow your focus in your job search based on your aptitude, interest, goals, desires, and dreams.

2. Beef up your email signature.

With technology playing an integral part of our lives today, you will be conducting a fair amount of your job search through electronic and online arenas. Use your email signature as another opportunity to sell yourself.

For example:

John Q. Public

Senior Marketing Manager

“Linking Real Results with Cost-Cutting Marketing Strategies for Upstart Companies”


3. Authenticity Matters

You need to understand the limitations and opportunities of your skills and abilities within the employer’s and recruiter’s mind and out in cyberspace. Your real values, emotions and meaning will be revered by recruiters and employers only when you represent yourself authentically. Liars and con-artists are eventually found out and the consequences can be extensive.

Simply put do not put disinformation on your resume or online career space.

4. Cross-promote.

With friends, centers of influence and family you have a network on individuals whom you can ask to help you find your ideal career. When these supporters find an opportunity that may fit for you, your online career space gives the potential employer or recruiter an opportunity to find out more about you without having to contact you- if needed, this is something they can do in the comfort of their own home!

In addition, put your new online career space URL on your other websites- like LinkedIn, FaceBook and MySpace so that anywhere an employer or recruiter seeks you, they will find a consistent message.

5. Become visible in the industry.

Whether it’s you or your direct reports, attendance at a new media conference will provide insight and best practices. You may meet some centers of influence that can help you with your job search, or, even a hiring manager! Being visible also gives you the opportunity to find out more about other companies to see if there is a good match.

6. Always be learning.

Smart people typically become smarter people.

Good advice to follow is to attend more conferences, read daily newsletters and be around brilliant people. Many people’s primary reason for changing jobs is that they want to learn something new and to step up their intellectual property.

7. Manage Your Reputation.

Sorry, but it does matter what others think when you are looking for your career. It may not in other aspects of your life, however when it comes to your online reputation, it is important to maintain control over it and to make sure it says what you want it to say.

Having a complete understanding of people’s perceptions is essential to building a winning online presence; your online career space helps in this control, however be sure that there are not contradictory images or statements about you which would distort the way people would perceive you.

8. When appropriate, create multiple online career spaces.

To speak to the employer or recruiter requirements you may need to build different sites. This is OK and encouraged so that you can speak more effectively to the needs and wants of various job postings. If you are a sales and marketing candidate, for example, and would like a career in either or both, you could have up to 3 different online career spaces (just make sure to name them differently to avoid confusion). You could have one that speaks about your sales expertise, one that speaks to your marketing prowess and a third that is a hybrid between them both.

9. Create multiple formats of your resume.

To effectively compete you need more than a Word document. To meet online compatibility standards your should put your resume into various formats, including: Word document, a Portable Document Printing (PDF), an ASCII (text), and HTML (web-based) versions. When applying for a job, be sure to follow application instructions carefully, paying close attention to the employer’s requested format.

10. Command respect by being transparent.

Seekers that connect with employers and recruiters the same way they do with recognizable companies will have a rude awakening. If you take anything from reality TV, you know that people care about authenticity and not acting. You need to start treating everyone like real people even if it is a virtual landscape and not face-to-face.

11. Work with specialty recruiters.

Similar to specific job boards, find the right recruiter for you desired job/career. Most temporary job services will not be able to help you as they tend to have more sales positions or lower end job postings. Look for a specialist in your field so that you will better insure you chances at your ideal career.

12. Take Advantage of Referrals

Historically, between 70% and 80% of new hires are based on a personal connection or a networking referral. This means that job seekers across all industries and functional disciplines should allocate their time and resources to promote existing connections and establish new relationships. This includes relationships with current and former employees not just where they have worked, but where they want to work.

This recommended proactive networking strategy puts prospective candidates in touch with appropriate inside leads before positions are advertised to outsiders. This offers a distinct advantage in the modern world of mass resume submissions and voluminous applications for each available opening.

13. Network Purposefully

Whether online or offline, make sure that you have a consistent message when communicating to strategic relationships or unadvertised leads. Rely on your specialization statement as an introduction elevator statement and then go into greater details when prompted.

As you build relationships and networks, know that these people will become ‘career insurance’ at the worst. Should a job or career fall short and you need to make a change, then these individuals will help you to get your next position.

14. Look Out For These Interview Questions

While the most important interview strategy to remember is to keep your answers positive and honest, being prepared is the first step toward success. The following questions are the most likely to be asked, so ask yourself how to frame your responses to be truthful:

Remember to practice? These questions give the interviewer lots on subtext about who you are and what you are about, so make sure that your answers reflect the perception you want the interviewer to know.

15. 7 Quick Tips About Interviewing

a. Do your homework.

b. Make it clear that your goal is fairness.

c. Show that hiring you is not an expense but a smart investment.

d. Never reveal an exact number for your desired salary or what you’re currently making.

e. Have a bottom line in mind.

f. Remember that this should be a win-win for you and your future employer.

g. Work this out with your future boss rather than their HR staff person.

16. During the Interview, Frame Your Responses

Employers are looking for more than just the words that you use in answering their questions; rather they are looking for both the content of your answer and the subtext in your responses. Using these ‘behavioral based’ template responses will help to control the perception of your responses.

- Decision Making and Problem Solving

Describe a situation in which you used good judgment and logic in solving a problem and/or give an example of a time when you had to be quick in coming to a decision.


Have you ever had trouble getting others to agree with your ideas? How did you deal with this situation? Describe the most challenging group from which you’ve had to gain cooperation.


Talk about a time when you went ‘above and beyond the call of duty’. Give an example of a time you had to use written communication to convey an important argument or idea.


Describe a situation in which you were able to successfully communicate with another individual who did not personally like you (or vice versa).

-Interpersonal Skills

Give examples of what you’ve done in the past to contribute to a teamwork environment. Give an example of an unpopular decision you’ve made, what the result was, and how you managed it.

-Planning and Organization

When scheduling your time, what method do you use to decide which items are priorities? Describe how you’ve handled a sudden interruption to your schedule.

Typically interviewers want you to add to their questions. Using the above format for your responses will enable the interviewer to glean more about you.

17. Get it in writing.

When should you get it in writing? Always get it in writing!

There are too many example of job seekers who get to the final steps of securing their ideal position only to have misunderstandings and miscommunications ruin everything; this goes for dates, durations, promotions, vacation, travel and other ancillary expenses.

Don’t avoid negotiating your compensation package only to find out later that the benefits are different from what you thought you negotiated. You should get it in writing.

On the other hand can “getting it in writing” be overkill? When the employer tells you out loud what the salary is, isn’t asking for written confirmation tantamount to saying, “Your word isn’t good enough for me?” Well, expensive misunderstandings can occur in the salary negotiation process, but you can prevent them easily enough by writing things down at the proper time.

While you want to make sure that you get what you want and deserve, avoid the back and forth overkill. Attempt to get clarity on your contract sooner rather than later.

18. Develop a Job Search Tracking System

Finding a full–time job is a full–time job! If you use Access, Excel, or even go “low–tech” with index cards, it’s imperative that you create a way to follow–up on all of your activity. This demonstrates your organizational and professional discipline skills and helps to keep you on top of where you are in various stages of the resume submission, interview and follow-up process.

19. Dress the Part

During your job search, your resume is your stand–in. You have to dress it up and make it present you as well as you would if you were there in person. So when your resume opens the door to an interview, you should be just as presentable in person.

In a sense, you have to make a first impression all over again. Besides being judged on your general business etiquette, your prospective employer will make mental notes about the way you look and present yourself – whether the person interviewing you is conscious of this or not.

We all know that appearances matter, and as much as we like to deny that society isn’t that superficial, research has shown that physical appearance affects people’s opinions, not only in the U.S. or in the western world, but across cultures worldwide. As an executive, your personal image plays a big role in your career, and especially in your job search. Most people realize they need to dress well for an interview. So then why do we still see so many ill prepared and poorly presented candidates?

Part of it may be due to confusion. In today’s work force, it’s often not clear what is considered appropriate business attire. This is especially the case with the introduction of business casual protocols – or lack thereof.

Different industries tend to have their own dress codes and offering uniform advice (no pun intended) on how to dress for interviews is simply not feasible. However, let’s look at some basic ideas, culled from common situations that incorporate image management to maximize your job search.

a. Reap the dividends of a strong personal image.

You’ve determined your personal brand in the work place and integrated this into your resume, cover letter, and other career documents. Yet many forget to make sure that your physical appearance underscores this brand. You want to present a congruent message on paper and in person. Show people how you think about yourself by the amount of attention you pay to your appearance and, in doing so, tell them where you see yourself going in the future.

Research suggests that physically attractive employees earn more. The Wall Street Journal once reported on a research project that indicated that out of 2,500 lawyers (both men and women), attractive attorneys earned as much as 14% more than their less–handsome colleagues. The point is: we can create a version of ourselves that capitalizes on our most attractive aspects and present ourselves, through proper dress and grooming, as highly respectable and professional.

2. Look good, feel good, and work effectively.

Realize that the way you look doesn’t only affect how others perceive you, but it also influences how you feel about yourself. It affects how you feel, think, act, and speak. You might even find yourself speaking more confidently and walking taller.

3. Forget about trends and focus on what works for you.

For most executives, classic attire will do the trick. Trends are a wonderful invention of the retail industry to keep us buying. This does not mean that you should look outdated. It simply means that trends tend to be distracting. They reduce your effectiveness in leadership or professional roles. Trendy items also tend to look good on a few people only. It is much more important to learn what suits you as a person, as someone with your body type and coloring, and within the context of your position and industry. Above all, dress with integrity.

Companies also benefit when employees – and especially executives – clearly represent the brand. When you demonstrate an understanding of this principle, you will be able to set an example for your staff, your new hires, and the people you supervise. Dress the part, and dress for success!

20. Five Tips on How to Ask For More

Many people that I meet don’t have a strategy for negotiating their compensation. They come to me after years of being behind their profession’s salary curve and need direction on how to make immediate change. Earning less than colleagues with similar, or lesser, skills and experience can certainly be frustrating. Here are a few tips for improving the quality of your salary negotiation conversation and the ensuing final offer in your next position.

Base your salary expectations on what the market will bear. Rather than projecting based on what you earned in a previous position, check current industry rates. All a salary suggests is what someone was willing to pay you at a particular time. Past salary generally has little relevance to current market value.

Discuss your salary expectations in terms of what is fair and reasonable. Don’t ask for a certain salary because that is what you think you need to earn in order to pay your rent. Instead, give an explanation for why the salary you are questing is directly correlated to the value you will bring to the organization. Ask if HR agrees that your estimate is reasonable, not if it is their standard practice. Getting them on your side is half the battle.

Uncover your competition. Before there is an offer on the table, ask the interviewer questions such as, “Can you tell me where you are in the hiring process?” or “How many people are you interviewing for this position?” to determine your competition. If you discover that you are their only current candidate, you will have more leverage during the negotiation process and you may be able to command a higher salary.

Think outside the box and be flexible. If an employer can’t offer you the base compensation you had hoped for, maybe they can offer you a compelling performance bonus, a signing bonus, or additional stock options.

Do your homework. Review sites such as and PayScale to help determine your market value, calculate the value of your benefits package, and assess the overall quality of your offer. Supplement this research with salary information you source through ‘s job postings, conversations with recruiters, and industry professionals to further validate the accuracy of your finding