job search

Let’s face it, it is tough to get any response from your resume or application. So if you are selected for an interview, congratulate yourself! You must have solid qualifications or you would not have even gotten that far.

Your resume has gotten you into the door, but now you have to bring it home. Sure you know your background and experiences, but don’t think you can walk in the door and wing the interview. A good candidate prepares and anticipates what the hiring manager wants to know and their expectations.

How do you prepare, you ask. Start with the job posting. Look for key words in the posting and be ready to give examples of how you demonstrate those aspects. Go through your resume and review how you will expand on each of your accomplishments and responsibilities. Think of whatever you’ve written on the resume as talking points for the interview.

Also, spend time in thinking about answering behavioral based interview questions. They usually start with something like, “Tell me a time when…” Anticipate what the hiring manager might be interested in hearing about. To answer this type of questioning, think of real examples from the past. Do not say anything like, “…well, I would…” The interviewer doesn’t want to know your theoretical answer, they want a solid example from the past. Come up with your stories on examples of how you address a question on team work, how you solved a problem, an ambitious goal you achieved, a colleague you struggled with etc.

It helps to practice beforehand. If you have an interview coming up, contact me for my Interview Coaching program.


I recently taught a class on job search skills at a local college and was surprised when one of the participants told her story about having an interview at a company. She mentioned how her son had worked there for many years, but she didn’t want to use his name, because she “wanted to get the job on my own merits.”

Her comment reminded me of the saying we’ve all heard, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” Like Laura (not her real name), I can remember thinking negatively whenever I heard that someone got a job “like that.” Perhaps I was miffed I didn’t know anyone who could get me anywhere (at least anywhere I wanted to go). Somehow it made that practice seem underhanded and almost illegal.

In my HR career, there were many times where someone’s resume got reviewed because they knew someone. Indeed, several of the companies I worked at, gave an employee referral bonus for any employee who recommended a person who got the job. It’s the birds-of-a-feather syndrome with the theory being if your friend is a good employee, they will “flock” with similar types. (Note: It goes without saying to make sure the person referring you–IS a good employee.)

In all my experience, I can say that the referral got the resume or application reviewed, it didn’t guarantee a job. The individual still needed to be qualified for the job and be the right fit.

I’m not so naive to think that is always the way it is. Sure there are people that get jobs because their father or father-in-law or mother-in-law is the CEO or owner. It happens. We can’t change that. But in this day where the right jobs are few and far between, don’t hesitate to utilize a contact as a segue to have your resume reviewed. If you’re writing a cover letter, mention the person’s name in your introduction.

And don’t worry…you’ll have plenty of time to prove your own merits.

Perhaps this has been the worst period in our lifetime when so many people have experienced rejection. And while this post is not addressing the kind of rejection you feel after a partner break-up, the emotions you go through are the same.

I wish I had some magic words that can help you through this period of your life. Here are a few of today’s work situations where you experience an emotional roller-coaster:

Company Lay-Off. Despite the fact that you know about the economy, many times you can’t help but feel, “why me”? Perhaps others did survive and you didn’t–what did you do wrong? Rejection.

Applying for Work. These days my clients wonder what they are doing wrong. They believe they have a good background–lots of good experience and yet, they hear nothing. Although most don’t even receive a rejection letter that was typical years ago, they still do feel that rejection.

Not Selected after Interview. The good news is that you landed an interview, but then you don’t get the job. It may be even made worse if you go back for follow up interviews, because the more time you put in, you start imagining yourself working at that company. It’s a hard blow when you aren’t the final candidate.

Here are some things to remember:

It’s not personal. Yes, it FEELS personal because it impacts your livelihood. Even if you are selected in a lay-off, many times it’s a numbers “game.” There is just so much money and so many people have to be eliminated. It really isn’t you. Matter of fact, many well-qualified people find themselves in the same situation. You are not alone.

Move on. The faster you are able to get over the anger and the hurt, the faster you can reach your desired goal. But do allow yourself time to feel the pain. Work is a big part of who we are–we feel it is part of our identity. However, we are MORE than what we do. Remember, we are human beings, not human doings.

Let it go. Control what you can, let the outcome go. Continue to do all the things you can in a job search. If you dwell on when you will get a job and how, you will drive yourself frustration.

I know this is all easier said than done. But keep your eyes focused on your future and not your past. Find support if you are struggling and you may need to get out of your comfort zone to find new ways to land that perfect job you want!

Although your network can be the key to your next transition, I find a lot of job seekers resist it. While it does take time to do–it could make or break your success.

Perhaps folks are uncomfortable with asking someone if they have a job. But here’s the good news–you don’t have to do that. Matter of fact, you should not do it. You are simply asking for some information.

First, do your homework. What is your job target? Can you come up with a list of companies where your target job would exist? Then, write a list of everyone you know. Identify which folks you feel most comfortable in talking with first (for whatever reason).

Then, you go on a scavenger hunt–trying to get information from each of those folks. You goal? To get to either a person who has a similar job like you want or find one of your targeted companies.

Before you contact anyone–imagine how your informational interview will go. How will you start your discussion? What questions will you ask? What information do you want from that person? How will you end it? How will you contact this person? People love to talk about their career journey, so having a good conversation with folks should be fairly easy.

Then start with one of the people on your list–start with an easy prospect first to give yourself practice. Besides some answers to your questions, ask the person on your list to give you 2 more names to contact. In that way your list of 10 will grow to 30.

If you continue to follow this recipe, your network will pretty soon increase like bunnies!

When I talk with a potential new client to complete their resume, I often have to remind them that NOW is the time for them to talk about the good work they’ve done.

Women, especially, struggle with talking about what they have done. We have been taught to be humble and we interpret that to play down all we’ve accomplished. I still have to catch myself in doing the same thing at times.

But in looking for work and writing a resume, you need to “get over it”–stand up tall and talk boldly about your work.You need to be honest, but be careful to not play down your performance.

Identify what role you had in getting something done. Often I see a person write on their resume that they assisted in this project or that. What does that mean exactly? You did something to get a task/project done–what was your role in it?

There are several acronyms that are used in helping us develop these accomplishment statements. The one I use is CAR, where C=Challenge you encountered; A=Action you took; R=Result you got.

Whether you are developing a resume or not, keep a log of the things you’ve accomplished this year to prepare for your annual review. Have your list ready to share with your boss. Being human, they often forget what you’ve achieved. Don’t assume they will remember–they may not!

And, furthermore, it’s great for you to look back at what you have done this past year. We keep our focus on what we haven’t done or what we still need to do, we forget or think it unimportant to remember that you HAVE moved forward!

The big news today was that my NC area had the highest rise in unemployment rates in the state this past month. Not news that anyone wants to hear.

While it’s hard not to get caught up in doom and gloom when all the news seems to be negative, you have to pull yourself up and choose the path that leads to success. One road leads to giving up and the other one is focused on possibilities.

Understand what you have control over. You can’t guarantee interviews or job offers, but you can control the process and what you are doing that increases your chances for a successful outcome.

Are you organized? How do you track your progress or what you’ve done? One thing you can do is to create two spreadsheets. One for your networking contacts and the other for jobs you applied to, phone interviews and replies etc.

How does your resume serve you? I am surprised how poorly written most resumes are. Is your resume focused on your past responsibilities? Or have you taken care in identifying your position targets and have incorporated key words  so that your resume will be selected for viewing?

Are you resisting the power of social media? Do you know how to utilize social media to your advantage? If not, there are many sites on line where you can learn more about how to make them work for you!

Are you trying to do your job search alone? It can be lonely out there! Find a few trusted friends who will support you in the process and help you keep up your spirits. A career club is a great way to get guidance on your job search and also provide you regular support from people who are in the same situation as you are.

As the old cliche goes, if you keep on doing what you’re doing, you’ll keep getting what you’re getting. This is 2011–time to shake it up!

Sign up for a free critique on your resume or if you’re in the Asheville area, let me know if you are interested in my career club starting in February! (see my web site for more information)!

Searching for a job does not have to be DEBILITATING emotionally (or exasperating at best) Some people believe that jobs are even, (and I am going to whisper this so shhh, sccaarrrccceee). However, you don’t have to be a famished job seeker. Instead, be job savvy! I am passionate about empowering my clients to take exhausted and worn out resumes and turn them into resumes that scream, “I am ready to do my best for YOU!”

Why do I go the extra mile for my clients?  Well, simply…because nothing is as important as your resume. These days, without having a resume that WOWS (rather than “just works”), you probably won’t ever get that interview in the first place.

One of the first decisions you have to make is to decide what it is you are looking for. Sure, you may have more than one target, and you may need to create two (or more) differently focused resumes depending on those unique targets. But being clear on what you are looking for is critical. One of the ways I help my clients get clarity is by an in-depth interview of their background and career objectives.

Secondly, a good way to start is to look through some of the job postings and job descriptions on career sites (sometimes called job boards) and scan them for jobs you are interested in. Note the particular responsibilities potential employers list and what kind of qualifications they are looking for. Look for themes between the various postings.

Then gather up any job descriptions and performance reviews you have and if you have an old resume, that will help as well. Start picking out the accomplishments and responsibilities that in particular, match the job you are targeting. You’ll want to highlight them in your resume so your potential employer can easily pick them out.

In this tough economy, employers want people who have the skills to hit the ground running. You must demonstrate through your achievements what you can do to fill their needs. Remember, your resume is not an autobiography. It doesn’t have to include a list of everything you have ever done in your life. Be selective in what you include!

More about turning up your resume in subsequent posts. I reserve Tuesday afternoons for tweaking resumes with my clients. It you’d like to be included on that list, email me and I will let you know when I have my next availability. If you’re ready to position yourself for success in 2011, email me at

Are you looking for a job? With so many people looking for work and so few jobs available, the competition is fierce. Job hunting has never been something that people enjoy; but these days, the pressure is on and it’s difficult not to be brought down by your situation.  I totally get that!  But you don’t have to feel isolated and overwhelmed.

First, recognize the things you have control of and those you don’t.  The way to keep your confidence so that you come across confident to your future employer is to focus on the process, have faith and believe that you will rewarded for your dilgence and your perseverance.

Although I don’t own a GPS, I count on my MapQuest Directions and maps in order to help me get to where I’m going. Without these trusty tools, we may wander around aimlessly and arrive late or may even throw up our hands and go back home in frustration.

A job search without good pre-work and clear targets is very similar to that direction-less car trip.  That’s why it is so essential for you to have the relational support of a coach to get you to your desired outcome. You may find yourself very busy, but getting no where.  And although you may not want to take the time to program your GPS or pull out a map–you will reap the benefits in the end, by doing so.

I can hear the wheels turning in your head, you’re saying, “But I just want a job, any job.”  I understand, but do you really mean that?

I was sitting in on a workshop for unemployed people and one of the participants said that very thing.  Then almost in the same breath, she described her last job at a grocery store.  She got a job–but couldn’t stand the way the manager treated her and the hours she had to work.  In the end, she quit–so, she really did have job requirements.  Do you agree with me–that she had values of wanting to be treated fairly, wanted some flexibility in her schedule and she wanted to enjoy her co-workers?

What are your priorities? What kind of work environment do you want to work in? How about the schedule–day, evening–part time? List out as many particulars you can think of.  Then develop a plan on how to get there.  For example–how much time will you spend each day on your job search? who can you network with?  Could volunteering help you meet more people and/or gain needed skills? Do you have a resume that is targeted for your ideal job?

Don’t assume you have to settle for what you can get–call me or email and let me serve you with a session completely oriented to helping you find your perfect job.

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Although I had your business card for a few weeks, I hesitated calling you until one day, I just felt inspired to contact you. Am I glad I did! After applying for literally hundreds of jobs this past year with not even one interview…after sending the résumé you created for me, not only did I get the interview, but I got the job! I feel that God inspired me to move forward and sent you into my life when I needed it the most. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
—J. Bloomfield, Asheville, NC


So, thought I'd brighten your day!  My new supervisor complimented my resume. She said she liked the summary at the top. She also commented that she wasn't positive that my background would've jumped out as a perfect match, but it was written in a way that highlighted my skills as a match for her needs. The resume you wrote for me did much more than any of those things, however. It changed the way I view myself.  It supported me, and gave me a confidence that I was lacking at that time. When I first saw your draft, I didn't immediately connect with it, yet I knew it was all truth. It grew on me, or I grew into it. By the time I walked into those last 2 interviews, I had a new confidence. Something deeper than just knowing I could do the job. I knew I was the right choice. That confidence, that knowing, attracted those jobs to me as surely as my credentials well presented.  It was both, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart. 
—J. Everson, Bloomfield, KY


I just wanted to write and let you know how much I appreciate your help with my resume. It worked!!! I have had 3 interviews, a step I did not reach before. While I have not received a job offer yet, I know it is just a matter of time before I find a position that is the right fit. Your help with the resume made all the difference!
—L. McLamb Asheville


I have built my business through satisfied clients so I cherish testimonials. One of the most stand-out testimonials that was given to me was shared by a client I coached to help her with an upcoming interview.

This client told me later, that she had met a woman at a community event. Jen shared about looking for a position and was telling her about the "biz coach" who prepped her for the interview. The other woman mentioned how she found this excellent person to do her resume and that the résumé itself was highly complemented on in her interview. And best yet, she got the job in the end! In a few minutes, they deducted they were both talking about the same person…ME!