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The Now, The New & The Next in Careers

Job Search Articles

Stay ahead of the curve with insights from our CTL Associates.

  • 15 Dec 2015 2:22 PM | Anonymous

    By Jack Mulcahy, ACRW
    Jack Mulcahy Resume Services

    It’s amazing how many job seekers do not realize the way the employment system works. They will come in with a resume that shows how smart they are; how well educated; how many years they worked at a particular position or company. Occasionally, one or two may even have had the good sense to include an accomplishment or two on their resumes.

    But their resumes, for the most part, are filled with job duties, rather than accomplishments. And as we know, companies don’t buy duties, they buy accomplishments.

    So I try to explain this simple fact to the job seeker, and invariably s/he will come back with, “Maybe so, but I’m different. When they see what I’ve done, they’ll realize how smart I am, and they just won’t be able to resist hiring me.”

    When I explain to them that the employer doesn’t care how smart you are, only what you can do for him/her, most of these people stare at me as if I had lobsters growing out of my ears. “I spent four years at [name the prestigious school]!” they’ll tell me. “How could they not want someone like me?”

    In my resume practice, I have actually had job seekers come to me in various states of depression because the world didn’t have a job waiting for them! These people were convinced that all they had to do was put their names out there and employers would fall all over each other trying to get them.

    This, dear readers, is called entitlement, and it is one of the biggest mistakes people make when seeking work. Entitlement is a road that will lead you to the edge of a high cliff with nowhere to go but down.

    What you need, if you are laboring under the illusion of entitlement, is a strong dose of reality. And the reality is that no employer in the world exists simply to give you a job.

    They aren’t waiting for a smart person like you to come along and save them. Employers exist to serve their customers and make a profit by doing so, and they will hire the person whom they judge will do the best job at helping them achieve those ends.

    Without customers, the company will not exist; without a primary mission of serving those customers, there will be no customers. Thus, by extension, the business you are seeking to work for is your customer; unless you approach the business with the express purpose of serving the needs of that business, you won’t have a customer, either.

    Check your entitlement at the door, please.

  • 15 Dec 2015 2:18 PM | Anonymous

    By Beverly Harvey

    Ah, you’ve found a really great position … you’ve accepted the offer … and you’ve turned in your resignation. But lo and behold, the senior management team of your current company is offering you an irresistible counter offer. Now what?

    Accepting a counteroffer is rarely a win-win situation. Counteroffers are a retention strategy used by companies to keep you on board until they can find a replacement. In making a counteroffer, your employer might appear to be doing you a big favor. You may feel flattered. But, don’t be deceived. A counteroffer isn’t about what’s best for you; it’s about what’s best for the company. You ARE NOT the main beneficiary.

    Statistics published by various executive search firms indicate that 90 to 95 percent of the people who accepted counteroffers ended up getting fired or leaving the company in six months to one year.

    From The Boss’ Perspective

    When you submit your resignation, most likely it will be a shock to your boss. His reaction will be panic and his thoughts may be something along these lines:

    • This couldn’t happen at a worse time.
    • How will we ever get the project/initiative competed on time without him/her.
    • My boss is going to be furious.
    • This is one of my best people and his/her leaving could cause serious morale problems with the team.
    • I’m working as many hours as I can. I can’t take on his/her load until I find someone to replace him/her.
    • This is going to look really bad on me … and my review is coming up

    So your boss, and probably his boss, or the Board, develop and present a counteroffer. They could offer you more money, a promotion, international opportunities, new technology, increased benefits, more stock/options, or better working conditions. But think about it, why weren’t you worth that much a week ago? Most likely, with these counteroffer promises, your boss is not trying to buy you back, but is merely buying time until he/she can replace you. Once you accept the counter offer, the employer immediately begins to search for your replacement.

    After all, you’re no longer perceived as a loyal team member. You’ll always be perceived as a loyalty risk. The company feels like they’ve been forced or blackmailed to give you more compensation or benefits. Where will the money come from? All companies have salary guidelines and budgets. The money has to come from somewhere in the budget. Will it affect division bonuses? Are your coworkers going to have to forgo their bonuses in order to make up for your raise?

    Once your coworkers find out, the relationship you now enjoy with them may never be the same. They may resent it. Most likely you’ll no longer be perceived as a trusted member of the management team. Plus, when promotion time comes up, you probably won’t be in the running. However, when cutbacks are mandated, you’ll be at the top of the list.

    A counteroffer may seem attractive because for most executives, starting a new job is stressful. There’s the natural fear of change and the unknown as well as concerns about learning a new company’s culture and complexities, and the degree of risk regarding your success in the new position. Yes, by accepting the counteroffer you will get more money or benefits for doing exactly what you’ve been doing all along.

    But think twice. The reasons you’ve decided to leave the company are probably not going to change. Most candidates change jobs for reasons other than money. So, be clear about why you decided to leave the company and ask yourself, will this counteroffer really change anything? Remember, the company is only making the counteroffer so they can keep you on until they find your replacement. Do you really think they’re going to change anything for you?

    The Recruiter’s Perspective

    The recruiter has invested hundreds of hours in finding, assessing, investigating, and presenting the right group of candidates. When a candidate backs out after accepting an offer, a recruiter stands to lose face with his client company. He will also lose months of time and allocated resources invested in the search, and possibly substantial income.

    Why should you care what the recruiter thinks? The value of a good recruiter should never be underestimated. Many recruiters develop career-long relationships with top-performing candidates and can help you achieve your career goals. Most recruiters will avoid candidates who renege on job offers (known as “no shows” in their field) and whose word can’t be trusted. Recruiters are a tight knit community. Word will spread like wildfire and you’re likely to be blacklisted.

     The Jilted Company’s Perspective

    The hiring company spent numerous hours interviewing you and may have paid your travel expenses and begun investing in you as their new executive. You negotiated the offer in good faith and agreed to a mutually acceptable offer. If you renege on your commitment now, the hiring company loses money. It must restart its search from scratch. By now, the other prospective candidates have long since accepted different positions or pursued other paths. The company will lose months of productivity and perhaps millions of dollars in revenue and market share because the position will be unfilled throughout another search.

    Why should you care about the company? Company executives talk, particularly when they’ve been jilted. They may feel revengeful and purposely make a few calls. It’s very likely you have permanently damaged your reputation in that industry.

    Resigning Gracefully

    Be very brief when you give notice. Try to anticipate your boss’ reaction and plan what you’re going to say. Emotions run high when a resignation is received. It’s a rejection! And often times, it’s a reflection on your boss. Try to remain calm despite the impulsive actions of your boss and other executives in the company.

    You don’t have to tell your boss where you are going, the nature of the job, or the compensation offered. They may ask you a lot of questions, but you are not obligated to answer any of them. Of course, you don’t want to burn any bridges, so you could say that your new employer has asked you to keep this information confidential. Assume a matter-of-fact attitude and understand that they want to know this information so they can develop a counteroffer.

    This is not the time to tell the boss exactly what you think of him and the company. It’s also not the time to tell your boss how underutilized or undervalued you feel. You may need references from your boss, senior management, and your peers sometime in the future.

    You’ll want to tell your boss that you’ve made the difficult decision to take another job, and that you came to the decision after much thought and consideration. Tell him that it’s been a wonderful opportunity and that you appreciate all that he has done for you, but it’s time for you to move on. Stand firm!

    When you resign … resign professionally, with dignity, and permanently.

  • 15 Dec 2015 2:16 PM | Anonymous


    There are many ways job seekers sabotage their search efforts. As humans and creatures of habit, we tend to get in our comfort zone and stay there. The biggest mistake for all of us is to keep doing the same thing we’ve been doing – even when we are not getting the results we want.

    If you are not getting the kinds of interviews and job offers you feel you should be getting, perhaps one of these common job search mistakes is the culprit.

    1. Lack of a clear and realistic career focus.

    This is a two-fold problem. Either a job seeker is desperate and “will take anything” and responds to any job whether he is a fit or not. Or, a job seeker doesn’t know what he wants to do and, using a vague me-centered objective, expects that a company can figure out where he’s a fit.

    An Executive Profile that focuses on the value a job seeker brings to an organization is critical to forwarding the process. Think niche. Position yourself as knowing a lot about a little rather than a little about a lot.

    2. Failure to identify and quantify marketable skills.

    A clear career goal by itself is not enough. An employer looks at a job seeker’s “documented track record” in relation to his own bottom line.

    The question a job search candidate needs to answer is, “how have my contributions positively impacted my employer.” Delineating and quantifying those accomplishments, versus listing a chronology of job titles and responsibilities, will distinguish you from the multitudes that rely on what they did rather than how they delivered.

    3. Inadequate marketing documents. (Resume, cover letter, follow up letters)

    Approximately 80% of job applicants are screened out at the paper stage. Candidates who fail to understand the power and importance of compelling marketing documents significantly reduce the chances of making it through the initial screen and therefore, increase the time they remain unemployed.

    It is not unusual for a job seeker to have 20 to 40 interviews before getting “the” job. In order to get interviews, your marketing documents have to sell you as a valuable asset rather than an all-purpose commodity.

    4. Poor references.

    How much thought have you put into choosing and prepping your references? More than 90% of prospective employers do reference checks. Inadequate and vague responses from your references can kill your opportunity, so choose your references wisely and prep your references by sharing with them what you feel is most important to the prospective position and/or the company.

    References should be tendered only when there is a job offer on the table.

    5. Flunking the interview.

    When you open your mouth, does your foot jump in? A whopping 90% of interviewees can’t answer even the most basic interview questions with confidence. And almost as many crash and burn during a pregnant pause.

    Common sense tells us that if you want to win the job, you need to ace the interview. Winning the offer requires thorough research, preparation, and practice – practice – practice. Don’t tell what you did, sell how you impact.

    Of course, the best positioning is to be the hunted rather than the hunter. A career plan … just like the business plan for your company … outlines where you want to be in 3-5 years with a clear strategy on how you will get there.

  • 15 Dec 2015 2:15 PM | Anonymous

    By Brenda Bernstein
    The Essay Expert

    Are you applying for a job or scholarship? The following list of pitfalls to avoid apply to *all* aspects of the process: resumes, cover letters, essays, and even your interview and thank you note. Here are 10 tips to help you distinguish yourself from the competition.

    1. Not answering the question

    If an employer or committee asks a question, be sure to answer it! They ask questions in part to hear your answers, and in part to make sure you can follow instructions and stay focused. Sometimes you can answer the question in a creative way, but make sure you have a professional review your answer (for interviews, practice this skill before the actual interview!). The perfect essay or interview response answers the question and shows off your key strengths and accomplishments.

    2. Exceeding the word or page limit

    Your application can get thrown out if you do not comply with the word and page limits. Do not take that chance! There is no point in writing a brilliant essay if it never gets read. Would you rather write 511 words that never get read or 500 words that do? If you are having trouble staying within the word and page limits provided, work with an expert to help you concisely say everything you want to say. Practice concise verbal answers too before you get to your interview!

    3. Pointing out why you do not qualify for the position

    Why would you highlight the reasons an employer would not want to hire you, or the reasons why someone else might be a better recipient of that scholarship? Many applicants make that very mistake. You can be sure that the people reading your application or sitting across from you in an interview already know what’s missing from your application – they have seen your resume. If they are talking to you, it means they are willing to overlook some of your weak points. Showcase your strengths so that the committee trusts you to do the job even if you don’t meet every qualification on paper.

    4. Bragging

    While you do not want to speak negatively about yourself, you also do not want to brag. A caveat: Many people think they are bragging and they are not – they are just stating their accomplishments. However, sometimes an essay or interview response can sound too self-congratulatory, even to someone wanting to hear about your best. The best policy is to provide facts that demonstrate something extraordinary about your accomplishments. You may want to hire someone to help you strike a balance between selling yourself and going overboard with self-praise.

    5. Making grammatical and spelling errors

    Employers and committees want candidates to demonstrate attention to detail and the ability to communicate effectively. Grammatical and spelling errors demonstrate the lack of these abilities. Slow down in an interview so that you sound professional. And never submit a resume, essay or application without having an expert review it! Your investment will give you peace of mind and unprecedented results.

    6.      Lack of clear organization or focus

    If your writing or speaking lacks organization or focus, you are almost sure to lose your audience’s attention. In a good essay, the writer is clear about the purpose of every word and every sentence. Stay focused as to what you are writing, where you are going, and why you’re saying what you’re saying. Sometimes, focus is difficult to maintain on your own; after all, you understand yourself perfectly and have infinite patience for yourself! It takes trained eyes and ears to evaluate whether you’re really getting your point across.

    7.      Speaking in generalities

    Here’s an example of a sentence that is too general to have its intended effect: “I am a hard working, determined individual driven by success and the love for acquiring knowledge.” Without examples of this hard work, determination, and love of knowledge, this sentence doesn’t say much of anything. The applicant would be better served by giving a concrete example of even one of these attributes. By describing a challenge she faced and how she handled it, she will keep the audience’s attention and make the impression she wants.

    8.      Complaining or speaking negatively about past experiences

    If you say anything negative about a prior position, your reader or interviewer will expect you to be complaining about your new position in short order. There are ways to give even the most negative experiences a positive spin. Not sure it’s possible? Get help from a writing expert who can help.

    9.      Using formal or stilted language in written materials

    You are writing to human beings. Write to them in conversational English. Although you do not want to get too casual with your language, you also do not want to sound awkward or pretentious. We recommend reading your writing aloud before pushing the send button. You might realize things about your language – and your punctuation – that you would never have noticed by reading silently!

    10.  Including extra information or attachments

    Unless expressly invited to do so on an application, do not attach outside information, attachments, videos, links to websites, PDFs, etc. as supplementary materials. If you are unsure about the guidelines, there is no shame in calling the company to ask. It’s better to be safe and to follow instructions exactly.

    Achieving success with your job and scholarship applications requires a lot of work and a lot of revisions. Get your essays into top form – and get the position or scholarship you want.

  • 15 Dec 2015 2:11 PM | Anonymous

    By Brenda Bernstein
    The Essay Expert

    I’m about to say something radical:

    If you are searching for a new job, the #1 most dangerous thing you can do is ask yourself questions about your job search.

    “What do you mean?” you may ask. “Are you crazy? All the job search guides tell me to answer questions like what my goals are and what my ideal job is. If I don’t ask myself questions, how will I get answers?”

    The problem with asking yourself questions is that it is really difficult to have a conversation with yourself. Asking yourself questions will get you only the answers that you can generate yourself. Those answers are necessarily limited.

    Your conversation might sound something like this: “What do I want to do next?  Oh, I don’t really want to think about that. I’m confused. The economy sucks. Maybe I’ll never get a job again. I think I have to do the laundry. Wait, what was that question?”

    Thankfully, there’s an alternative to this mind chatter: Have someone ELSE – someone you trust – ask you the important job search questions. You might be surprised at the clarity you achieve when you bounce ideas off another human being. That person might be a job search coach or a relative or a friend. It MUST be someone who listens extremely well and asks good questions.

    Here are the Top 10 questions to have someone ELSE ask you. Give this list to someone you trust and have him or her read it to you, one question at a time:

    1. What do you love about your current position (or last position)?
    2. What don’t you like about your current position (or last position)?
    3. What would be your ideal work schedule?
    4. Do you work best with people or alone? With a lot of supervision or little supervision?
    5. What size organization and corporate culture are the best matches for you?
    6. How much money do you want/need to make?
    7. Is there a job at your current company that you would want to do? And/or is there a way your current job could become your dream job?
    8. What’s your dream job?
    9. Who in your life can you talk to about what it’s like to do X job?
    10. What will you do to find out more about the day to day realities of X job?

    It doesn’t hurt to begin by answering these questions on your own. You might have some success in generating useful answers. But whatever you do, don’t stop there. I guarantee you that some new thought or clarity will come from having a conversation about these questions with someone other than yourself.

  • 15 Dec 2015 2:09 PM | Anonymous

    By Brenda Bernstein
    The Essay Expert

    Many job search experts, including me, are out there giving tips about how to find jobs. I thought I’d give you all some advice based on my own most recent job search – one that got me several interviews and a part-time job! In my search, I was open to accepting a part-time position as something steady and stable while I start my own business.

    Here’s what I did:

    1. Created multiple versions of my resume. One emphasizes my managerial experience; one emphasizes my legal experience; another emphasizes my writing and editing experience. For each job I was interested in, I made sure the keywords from that job description were in my resume!

    2. Applied to a lot of jobs. Yes, even ones I thought I didn’t want. Some of them turned out to be more interesting than I had expected. I also applied to jobs there was probably no way I would ever get. And I sent cover letters and resumes to places where I would want to work but where there were no jobs available (including the University of Wisconsin Law School). Because you never know.

    3. Wrote engaging, punchy cover letters. Each cover letter was custom tailored to the specific job I was applying for. It made a difference. I was offered several interviews in widely divergent fields.

    4. Went on an “informational interview” where there was no position currently available but there was a possibility of a future job.

    5. Asked what I needed to bring to interviews, and brought the requested materials.

    6. Showed up 15 minutes early for interviews, and chatted politely with the receptionists whenever possible. Believe it or not, this practice can get you far!

    7. Stayed positive and friendly in the interviews. Talked about things other than the job. Came prepared with questions I could ask about the organization and the job.

    8. Wrote thank you notes (at least when I was interested in the job!) If 2 people interviewed me, I wrote 2 thank you notes, each with its own unique message.

    9. Clarified my priorities for myself. I got clear that having a part-time job with flexibility, in an open and friendly environment, was what I wanted. These attributes were more important for me than the pay rate or even growth opportunities. The more I got clear about what I wanted, the closer I got to getting it.

    10. Stayed active! I searched for or applied for jobs every day. I exercised every day. I sent out at least 2 job applications per week, whether I found the “perfect” opportunity or not. I volunteered to help a woman with disabilities to write a book. I took a transcription job that kept a little bit of money flowing in. And I started my own business, which got me out in the community and on the internet networking. I was *never* sitting around wondering what to do on any given day. Remember, action breeds action! Doing *something* – *anything* – keeps you engaged in your life and work. You never know what will come out of the relationships you form.

    What did I get out of all of this? Several interviews, and ultimately a 25% time job at the University of Wisconsin Law School, Office of Career Services. It’s the perfect fit for me, and it is likely to turn into a 50% time position in the Fall – with benefits.

  • 15 Dec 2015 2:07 PM | Anonymous

    By Beverly Harvey, CPRW, JCTC, CCM, CCMC, MRW, CPBS, CLTMC, CJSS

    Smartphones are taking the world by storm and people are integrating them into their job search activities. Smartphones combine both mobile phone and handheld computers into a single device enabling users to store information (e-mail, PDFs, docs, audio and video), install hundreds of programs (apps) and, of course, make cell phone calls.

    Like a computer operating system, a mobile phone operating system is the software platform on which other programs run. The operating system determines the functions and features available on each device and also determines which third-party apps can be used on the device.

    A few of the apps that are useful in a job search include:

    Apple iPhone Apps

    Gist: An online tool for organizing and managing professional connections, relationships and communications. ( dubbed Gist “the power networker’s fantasy service for syncing social media data with email connections.”

    Gist aggregates and prioritizes news, events and social media content around the user’s contacts and companies. It’s a great iPhone app for those who procrastinate and wait until the last minute to prep for an interview.

    After installing and launching the app, users can log in to their Gist account and get a dashboard view of all the news, blog posts and tweets from people or companies based on user-defined priorities. Users can also search and drill down into events pulled in from their Outlook calendar. The People and Categories tab will highlight the latest news around contacts.

    The Gist iPhone organizes numerous pieces of data for users. For example, when planning for a meeting with a contact, the user can pull up the event, get a map and research meeting attendees by viewing aggregated news, events, tweets, email messages and attachments associated with the individual. It’s a convenient way to track down an email thread, attachment or quick contact fact.

    LinkedIn: The iPhone’s mobile browser for LinkedIn allows users to take their professional network with them wherever they go. Users have immediate access to their contacts and important updates, such as newly posted positions.

    Resume PRO: Allows job hunters to create a PDF resume on their phone. The app also features a cover letter that can be included when sending a resume.

    Career Bliss: Provides salary and inside information about companies.

    HireSyndicate: Shares real-time job information from recruiters.

    CLBFree: Provides mobile access to Craigslist, including the job section.

    JobFinder: Serves the US and UK with a powerful search engine that taps into some large job sites such as and

    TheLadders: With a Premium subscription to the online site, members can search, view and save job postings they would like to research and respond to when they’re back at their computer.

    JobServe Connect: A fully functional job application system that enables users to quickly search and apply to jobs in the US. There’s also a UK version available for searching for jobs in the UK.

    BlackBerry Apps

    Xobni: A contact enhancement and synchronization tool for BlackBerry smartphones.

    According to Xobni, the app “reinvents the address book” by automatically generating profiles for all contacts–even those that users have not manually added to their address book.

    Xobni for BlackBerry automatically pulls phone numbers, offers access to contacts on the e-mail compose screen or in a standalone app, ranks contacts by frequency of communication, saves profiles in the event of a lost phone and offers quick access to recent text messages, social networking profiles, shared networks, calendars and more.

    Xobni One: A standalone app that integrates with Blackberry email, Xobni One is a way to sync desktop and mobile contacts. It syncs the users Xobni contacts in Outlook with their contacts on their Blackberry–all in the cloud. If the user uses Outlook on their desktop at work, but Gmail on their Blackberry, Xobni One reconciles the two. The app also ranks the users contacts by importance and pulls in social data from Facebook, LinkedIn and other places.

    Viigo: A full-featured RSS feed reader that lets users keep up with important news wherever they are. Users can add feeds and create a job-hunting dashboard for their phone. An updated version of the app adds support for custom search alerts and podcasts.

    Vlingo: A speech-recognition app that enables users to run voice-directed Web searches, launch built-in BlackBerry applications, compose e-mails and send text messages. Vlingo takes over the application key on the side of the BlackBerry making it easy to access even while driving.

    Android Apps (Droid, Backflip)

    LinkUp Job Search Engine: LinkUp brings the Web’s fastest growing job search engine to the Android. LinkUp’s unique search engine lists jobs that are found on company and employer websites. Features enable users to search job listings found only on company websites; search jobs by keyword, location, company or category; save jobs to Favorites and access Favorites via browser or feed reader; save searches to email alerts and be notified of all new matching jobs; and apply to job openings directly through the Android.

    Androis Zoom – HireADroid: Supports multiple job search engines across multiple countries.

    Features enable users to search job listings found on LinkUp, SimplyHired, and CareerBuilder and save, post, email and note listings.

    Symbian Apps (Nokia)

    Career Manager: The UK-based Harvey Nash Career Manager leverages their expertise in the recruitment world to provide impartial and opinionated career advice through a mobile-optimized interface. Users can get advice on deciding if it’s time for a move, salary negotiations, interviewing, approaching the market and writing high-impact executive CV’s.

    Online Appointment Magazine (OAM): The Harvey Nash executive career magazine with a monthly publication read by over 7,000 senior executives each month includes book reviews, featured articles, executive jobs and career management podcasts. Job Search: The leading career website for technology and engineering professionals and the companies that seek to employ them.

    MS: Search through and apply for the very latest UK jobs from across the Mortimer Spinks’ network.

    Windows Mobile Phone Apps (Samsung, HTC, Tilt, Fuse, Windows Phone 7)

    Office Mobile: Microsoft apps on the smartphone gives users the ability to open and edit Microsoft Office Word and Excel documents and view Microsoft Office PowerPoint documents. When used on a touch screen phone, Office Mobile comes with some additional features, such as word count and the ability to check spelling in Word Mobile, chart creation in Excel Mobile, plus the ability to highlight sections of content and create documents.

    Office Outlook Mobile: Enables users to stay connected to their e-mail, calendar and contacts with the familiar Outlook features. Users are able to sync most Windows Mobile phones over-the-air, through their mobile operator or at a wireless hotspot. E-mails and attachments arrive with their original appearance intact, so users see tables, graphics, font colors, formats and Web links just as they were sent.

    Users can use Outlook Mobile to organize information in folders; send and receive e-mail from Web-based services like Yahoo! Mail and from Internet service providers like Comcast and EarthLink; synchronize their calendar and contacts with Outlook on their PC or their company’s network; search their company’s central address book for contacts they don’t have in their own contact list; send meeting requests, track attendance and receive detailed responses to meeting requests.

    Internet Explorer Mobile: Users can get online from their smartphone and sync the Favorites they have saved on their PC.

    Windows Media Player Mobile: Users can synchronize their desktop version of Windows Media Player with their smartphone. The app will automatically update favorite playlists, music files and video files on the device.

    Mobile Web” sites

    Many websites have created “mobile” sites specifically formatted for smartphone users. Job boards that have created mobile sites include:

    • Monster:
    • CareerBuilder:
    • — Focuses on niche career communities
    • — Searches multiple job sites and aggregates the results.

    For a directory of other “mobile Web” sites, visit (, winksite (, or Web On Your Cell (

    As technology emerges at lightning speed to meet users’ demands, it won’t be long before smartphones are all-encompassing handheld personal computers.

    Note: This article was written in June 2010 and will most likely be outdated within a few months.

    For Gartner Report statistics on smartphone use, see Trends.

    For Best Practices in utilizing smartphones in the job search, see the Best Practices page.

  • 15 Dec 2015 2:05 PM | Anonymous

    By Brenda Bernstein
    The Essay Expert

    What risks are you willing to take in your job search…?

    Once one of my clients (I’ll call him Adam) got a graphic design job he was very excited about. This job was at a company that works with government and military. It was officially an internship, but was guaranteed to convert to a full-time position after three months if the client performed well.

    At the same time as Adam got that offer, he also received an offer for an interview at another company.

    Adam chose to turn down the second interview and to accept the internship with the company he loved.

    I was thrilled for Adam, and also a little concerned. Was it a good idea for my client to stop his job search before receiving an actual full-time job offer? I expressed my concern but Adam was confident he had made the right choice.

    Question for thought

    What I like about the way Adam made this decision is that it shows clarity of purpose and a willingness to take risks in pursuit of what he loves. I also recognize that if he had been playing it safe, he would have gone on that interview and accepted an offer if extended by the second company, even though it would have meant leaving his internship early and breaking that agreement.

    What would you have done in Adam’s situation? Would you have taken a risk like that, turning down an interview when all you had was an internship and the promise of a job in three months?

    Job on the line

    Two and a half months later, Adam had been giving his all on the job and making a positive impression, he thought, on the company. But the next thing he knew, the promised job was eliminated. Adam called me in upset, distraught yet still hoping to convince the company to extend his internship. He was not willing to give up without a fight.

    What are your thoughts now? Do you think Adam made the right decision in accepting this position?

    Don’t go down without a fight

    Just a few days after his initial call to me, Adam called me again to tell me some good news: His externship was extended for six more months.

    What are your thoughts now? Did Adam make the right choice?

    From my perspective, he absolutely did. He showed his current company that they were without a doubt the company he wanted to work for. And in six months, he will have nine months of great experience to put on his resume and to bring to his next position. He will be more marketable to any company seeking a graphic designer, and perhaps his current company will value him enough that they will find a permanent place for him there. Or, perhaps the other company who offered him an interview might have a position available. Who knows what might be possible?

    One thing is for sure: Without a willingness to risk, and without a willingness to fight, Adam might not have a job at all. I am tremendously proud of his commitment and tenacity, and believe these traits are some of the most important qualities any job seeker, employee, or intern can bring to the table.

  • 15 Dec 2015 2:04 PM | Anonymous

    By Amanda Augustine

    Informational interviews are an important part of any job seeker’s networking strategy, especially if you’re new to the job market or considering a transition to a new field or industry. They are a great way to grow your connections, promote your personal brand, learn about the job market in your targeted field and uncover unpublished job leads.

    However, they’re not about begging for favors. You should never go into an informational interview expecting to come away with a job lead. As the name suggests, the goal of an informational interview is to gather more information and grow your network so you’re better equipped to navigate the job market. A job lead would be a bonus.

    But before we talk about how to reach out to your connections, we first need to discuss who you should be reaching out to.

    Take a good look at your current network and prioritize your contacts based on their ability to help you. The first group will be people within your current or desired line of work: former colleagues, vendors, business partners, customers and so forth. Hopefully these are people with whom you’ve maintained a friendly, if not close, relationship. Who in this group is actually in a position to know about industry news and job openings? Target those people.

    But there’s also another group of contacts that will be incredibly valuable because of their social reach. They are the social butterflies among your circle of friends. You know the ones – they tend to run in a number of very different social circles and love gathering people together and making introductions. Malcolm Gladwell refers to them as “connectors” in his book, The Tipping Point. Whether in your industry or not, connectors like this can be an important gateway to other valuable connections.

    This social butterfly will be able to put you in touch with people you might never meet otherwise — and talking you up to connections could help you secure a phone call or lunch meeting. A social butterfly is good at that.

    Now that we’ve identified the right people to target, it’s time to discuss your approach.

    Professional Connections

    When you’ve been out of contact with people you’ve worked with in the past, it can feel very weird reaching out. And you’re right – the assumption will probably be that you’re looking for job leads. To help combat that, I recommend you reconnect before you ask for anything. Send a simple note via email or over one of your social networks saying hi and asking how everything is going. If you’ve noticed they’ve changed companies or passed some career or family milestone, mention it and congratulate them (hint: do a little online research). It’s an easy excuse to reach out.

    Subject Line: Catching Up – Amanda Augustine

    Hi Bob,

    Long time no speak! 

    How’s everything at Amgen these days? I was on LinkedIn yesterday and noticed you were recently promoted to Senior Director – congratulations! How’s the new gig treating you?

    I’d love to grab lunch with you next week and catch up. Let me know if you’re available. 

    Please send my hellos to Brennan and the boys!



    Once you’ve reconnected, then you can pick their brain about their company or industry, and find out if they can help. Don’t ask for a job. Most people you meet with won’t be able to offer that type of help. And if they have to say no, it makes them less likely to help you in other ways. What you can ask for is a job reference, an introduction to another contact or some insight into the industry.

    Personal Acquaintances

    If it’s an acquaintance that one of your friends or colleagues knows well and has recommended you speak with, the best thing to do is ask your contact to send an email of introduction to you and the acquaintance. This works well because your friend will most likely speak to the person individually before sending an email, already advocating on your behalf (always a good thing!). When you respond, it’s best to reply-all to the message, leaving your mutual contact copied on your email response, so it will be clear that you replied.

    In some cases, your friend will simply speak to the acquaintance over the phone on your behalf and you will be tasked with sending a note to the person first. If you find yourself in this situation, ask your friend for the person’s email address and send a message referencing the mutual friend’s name in the subject line. Clearly explain why you’re reaching out (hint: don’t say you want them to help you find a job) and end with a call to action. Here’s a sample message you can use as a starting point:

    Subject: Hello from Sarah Brinker’s friend

    Hi John,

    Our mutual friend Sarah Brinker recommended I reach out to you, as I’m exploring different career options and am very interested in learning more about the healthcare field (specifically pharmaceuticals). From what Sarah has said, it sounds like you’ve had quite an amazing career at Johnson & Johnson! I’d love to buy you a cup of coffee next week and pick your brain. Please let me know if you’d be open to meeting. I look forward to hearing from you.



    Pay It Forward

    When connecting with either type of contact in your network, look for ways where you can provide value or offer help. During your job search, you’ll learn a ton about the job market that the average professional doesn’t know. Share information you’ve learned along the way that is relevant to your contact – this could be in the form of industry news, a recruiter recommendation or a job opening that is a good fit for that person.

    Keep in mind that you don’t have to provide value that’s strictly job-related. Perhaps your contact is a major sports fan and you heard about some great documentary that’s coming out about a favorite team – send the link to let him know you thought of him. Perhaps during lunch the person mentions that her family is planning a trip to Bermuda and you’ve been there before. Offer to email her a few restaurant recommendations.

    Approach networking and informational interviews as a give-and-take relationship where you will gain as well as provide value, and you will find it much easier to reach out to people without turning into a beggar.

  • 15 Dec 2015 2:02 PM | Anonymous

    By Amanda Augustine

    It’s so important to have a strong online presence when you’re looking for a job. I would argue everyone needs a professional online brand just to stay on top of their careers these days! But this can definitely be a challenge when you’re still employed and trying to keep your search on the down-low.

    I will say this: I think it’s really rare for an employer to be caught completely off guard when an employee gives notice. Unless your boss is incredibly disconnected and clueless, most will pick up on the signs that say you want out. You have more “sick” days or “doctor visits”. You’re spied sporting a suit when the office dress code is more casual. Your lunches are suddenly longer. People pick up on those things.

    You have to ask yourself, ‘what will happen if they find out I’m looking?’ What happened to the last employee who was caught searching for a job? Were they fired? Personally I know people whose employers found out they were looking and countered with more pay to get them to stay. What do you think would happen to you? The outcome is completely dependent on the company and how it operates, so I’ll leave that judgment call to you.

    That said, I can understand why job seekers want to be cautious. To keep a low profile, you need to think about all the ways you go about searching for a job, not just posting your resume online.

    When you’re looking for a job, don’t rely on only one method to find jobs. Incorporate the 3 primary methods to make sure you’re learning about all the opportunities out there – published or hidden. This means: (1) applying (and properly following up) to online job listings, (2) networking with your social and professional contacts, and (3) engaging with recruiters.

    Here are some tips to keep your job search efforts quiet around the workplace:

    Online Applications

    If you find a job posting that you think is for your company, do a little detective work. Do you know what your company’s hiring practices are? If your company uses third-party (read: not employed at your company) recruiters for their positions, you’re in good shape. No third-party recruiter will offer you up as a candidate to your current employer – there’s no money in that for them. Also, check your company’s internal job board to see if the position is listed.

    As for posting your resume, you need to be careful. Some services, such as TheLadders, will allow you to hide portions of your resume to maintain confidentiality. Before you post your resume to a site, check out the features available and contact the company’s customer service department if you aren’t sure. If the site won’t allow you to post confidentially and you think your employer will react negatively if s/he finds you, then I recommend only submitting your resume for specific applications and keeping the resume off the site. Recruiters will still be able to find you in other ways, such as through your online profile.


    Networking requires you to have a strong professional online profile on websites like LinkedIn. If you’re suddenly fleshing out your profile and connecting like crazy to everyone you know it’s pretty obvious you’re looking for a job. To combat this, first make sure you change the security settings so your activity won’t show up in your feed – that way, your employer would need to actually visit your profile on a regular basis to know what you’re up to – who has time for that? You can also hide who you are connected to and what groups you join.

    If your professional network seems a little risky at the moment, consider reaching out to former colleagues who you trust (it helps if they left the organization a long time ago). Do you have any trade shows or conventions coming up that are for your job? Just because you’re not handing out your resume at the event doesn’t mean you still can’t network. There’s nothing wrong with speaking to other people in your industry and making connections – just meeting new people in your industry can help your search. I also recommend tapping into your personal network – you have no idea who your sister’s best friend’s husband works for. He might be a valuable asset in your search!


    If you’re afraid to post your resume onsite, consider directly reaching out to recruiters that focus on your industry or line of work. You can search for appropriate recruiters on TheLadders,  LinkedIn, and through recruiter directories such as Oya. Find specific recruiters at these agencies and reach out to them directly with your cover letter and resume. If you can’t get any response from a particular recruiter, then you can post your resume to the agency’s website (if possible). Again, as long as it’s not a corporate recruiter working for your company, you really don’t have to be worried about your boss finding out.

    Assuming your online profile is fully fleshed out and aligned with your resume and job goals, you can expect recruiters to occasionally contact you, even if you aren’t explicitly stating that you’re looking for a job. Recruiters like to reach out to anyone whose background and experience fits in with their client’s wish list, especially people who are considered “passive.” Whether it’s fair or not, you’re usually considered more desirable to employers and recruiters when you’re currently employed.

    Rule of thumb: don’t do any of your job-search activities in the office or on company equipment. Don’t post your company phone number or email address for your contact information. At the end of the day, use common sense (and a little detective work) while you search and you’ll be able to successfully search for a job without raising too many red flags with your current company.

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