5 Reasons Your Resume Fell into a Black Hole

You’ve sent your resume out for a dozen jobs this month, but it seems like it’s disappearing into another dimension because you aren’t getting calls. Sound familiar?

Chances are, one or more of the following issues applies to you. Maybe…

…you didn’t act quickly enough. Just because the job posting says “Apply by July 24” doesn’t mean they won’t already have settled on a short list by the 20th. Be the early bird.

…your resume stated what you did, but not how well you did it and what difference it made. Let’s say you planned, led and completed a project. Well yes, but lots of people could do that. Did you do it better? Was it more difficult than it sounds? Did you solve a problem that was threatening to derail the initiative, then get the project back on track to hit an outrageous 5-week deadline? If so, add that!

…your resume is hard to read. Resumes that are wordy (using five words where two would do), crowded (long sentences and paragraphs, too little white space), in a tiny font (try not to go below 10 pt.) or that look disorganized are hard to read. Like this paragraph was. (Too many parentheses.)

…you didn’t use a proofreader. Long before I became a job search coach I worked as a proofreader and copyeditor, correcting professional writers’ manuscripts. When I was done with them, nearly every page was marked with numerous corrections. Your writing is not as clean as you think.

Did you know you can hire a proofreader for less than $5 a page? You can’t afford not to. And proofread it yourself too, because nobody’s perfect.

…you only sent your resume to Human Resources. Yes, I know, you were instructed to send it there. But don’t stop there. Figure out who the hiring manager is, and send it to him directly as well – maybe with a follow-up phone call as well.

(By the way, there’s LinkedIn add-on called Hunter that helps find people’s email addresses.)

Have you solved these resume mistakes? Still not getting the interview as often as you’d like? Subscribe to this blog so you won’t miss my next post, “5 More Reasons Your Resume Didn’t Get You the Interview.” You’ll also get a free gift.

Tell LinkedIn What You Want Changed! It’s Easy.

Are you annoyed, enraged or thrilled or just puzzled about LinkedIn’s new desktop layout? There are a lot of strong feelings about what’s been added – and removed! – in the new interface.

If you’re puzzled, read my post from last week about making the new layout work for you.

If you don’t entirely like the new look, then why not…

Let LinkedIn know what you want changed!

Here’s how.

  1. On your home page, just click the “More” link in the are to the right of the news feed. (See image.)
  2. Then click “Send Feedback” in the 3rd column from the left in the view that appears.
  3. From there, it’s self-explanatory – and very quick.

Of course there’s no guarantee you’ll get what you ask for – but you’ve got even less chance if you don’t ask!

LinkedIn’s New Look – 5 Steps to Make It Work for You

LinkedIn’s new desktop layout provides a more seamless experience across mobile and home – but will it make you look good?

Here’s what you need to do to ensure your profile is branding you the way you want it to – starting from the top and working our way down.

One: Brand Yourself with that Summary “Teaser.”

One of the first things someone viewing your profile will see, in the top box (often called the Snapshot), is the beginning of your Summary – the first 92 characters on mobile, 220 on desktop – along with a “See more” link. Not everyone will click to see more, so make sure those first words contribute to a relevant, positive first impression that supports your professional brand.

The truncation process eliminates line spaces, so you may find that those first 92/220 characters include words or sentences jammed together with no space in between, like this:

CATHY L. CURTISSustainability Consultant – Corporate Social Responsibility –

To prevent that, use dashes or symbols (from the “Symbols” font on your computer) to separate the words, like this:

▒ CATHY L. CURTIS ▒ Sustainability Consultant – Corporate Social Responsibility – Communications –

Two: Pay Attention to Your “Articles and Activity.”

Since your recent posts and post “likes” now show up at the top of your profile, they’re much more noticeable. So make sure your posts support your professional brand. If you wouldn’t talk about a certain topic in a large meeting at work, don’t post it on LinkedIn. And if the last time you posted was a long, long time ago, it’s time to share some news or an interesting work-related article.

Three: With Job Descriptions Hidden, Make Sure Your Titles Speak for Themselves.

Your job descriptions are now hidden until the reader clicks for more. If there’s something super-important in the description – like the fact that “Analyst III” actually means you built websites – add some description to the job title field, in parentheses like this: “Analyst III (Web Development & Design)”.

That’s actually been a good idea all along, since job titles are a very important field to load with key words if you want your profile to come up high in searches for people with those skills.

Four: Claim Your Accomplishments.

Several sections that once were separate are now grouped under the heading “Accomplishments”:  Certifications, Courses, Honors / Awards, Languages, Patents, Projects, Publications, Test Scores and Organizations. You don’t need all of these things, of course. But by labeling them “Accomplishments,” LinkedIn has made them more important. Enough said.

Five: Be Aware of Other Changes.  

You no longer have a choice about the order of the sections. If previously you had Education or Certifications near the top of your profile to emphasize it, that’s no longer an option. Instead, use your Summary (especially those first 92/220 characters) to draw attention to what’s important.

Groups have not disappeared, but it’s less obvious how to find and interact with your Groups. Click the magnifying glass next to the search field at the top and then click the “Groups” tab that appears. Or scroll down to “Following” near the bottom of your profile and “See more.” Various changes have been made to how your Groups function, mostly to make it less spammy. Here’s more on that.

Advanced Search is still there, you just have to click the magnifying glass first.

The new Notifications page makes it easier to engage with post activity.

LinkedIn Posts is now called Articles and works differently in various ways. The bad news is that your articles are no longer shared with all your Connections. Here’s more info on changes in this area.   

Exporting your LinkedIn connections is now done under Account>Basics.

There’s a new messaging feature similar to Facebook Messenger with a chatbot for scheduling meetings with Google Calendar.

Tagging of contacts is no longer available, but you can do that and more with add-ons like Dux Soup.

Capitalize on the Power of LinkedIn to Build Your Brand

Despite Facebook’s recent entry into the job posting world, LinkedIn remains the preeminent professional networking site. Use it to your advantage!

Do You Need a Personal Website?

Does Every Job Seeker Need a Personal Website?Online presence is crucial for job seekers, since recruiters routinely research and even source candidates through web searches. Social media platforms like LinkedIn are part of the equation. But do you need a personal website as well?

A slew of articles in recent years in publications like Business Insider, Money Magazine and Forbes have answered a resounding “yes.” But of course no one answer is right for every individual. So let’s think it through.

How far can you go with LinkedIn?

Many of the benefits of a website can be obtained with a great LinkedIn profile. Have you done everything you can to optimize this career marketing tool, both for the human eye and for search rankings? Don’t overlook optional sections like Projects or Awards, and the option to add media (photos, videos, documents or presentations) to make your profile engaging and search-ready.

And of course LinkedIn provides a blogging platform, Pulse. If you’re a good writer with something to say, blogging can demonstrate your professional expertise and communication skills. On Pulse you’ll have a built-in user base and traffic source for your posts, plus solid credibility with search engines – all of which would take time and effort to build if your blog is on a personal website.

A personal website, on the other hand, offers major advantages.

  • More space to showcase images and other content (projects, testimonials, etc.) in whatever format you like
  • No distractions in terms of ads, other people’s profiles, and so on
  • More control over how you appear in Google search results
  • Branding yourself as an up-to-date, tech-friendly professional
  • A contact form that makes it easy to reach you
  • Ownership; freedom from rules like LinkedIn’s user agreement

In balancing the pros and cons for your individual situation, consider your occupation and industry. How important is it for you to appear tech-friendly, media-savvy and skillful in marketing and/or selling something – like yourself, for example?

A personal website is more crucial for some than others, but most job seekers can benefit from having one. Done well, it’s a useful marketing tool that makes you stand out from the competition – an investment in getting a job and developing your career.

7 Ways to Use LinkedIn Recommendations to Impress Employers

6 Ways to Use LinkedIn Recommendations to Impress EmployersCan LinkedIn recommendations help you get a better job?

Absolutely. These powerful online testimonials are often seen very early in the hiring process, when they can contribute to first impressions – and even influence the decision to bring you in for an interview.

Look at it this way: what carries more weight to a prospective employer – your opinion about yourself (as expressed in your profile, resume, etc.), or what your past managers and customers say about you?

If you don’t have recommendations, request some (and give some, while you’re at it!).

Here are six smart ways to use LinkedIn recommendations to enhance your online presence and credibility:

1. Quote from them in your resume or cover letter.

Use very short, glowing excerpts – maybe 1-3 lines each. Insert one quote in a summary section near the top and/or another at the end of the resume. Or include a few within the experience, skills or education sections. Don’t overdo it.

2. Refer to them in interviews.

Use them to add a memorable sound bite: “You may have noticed the LinkedIn recommendation from my boss saying that I’m a miracle worker with Excel.”

Or to back up your own claim: “I really care about my clients – in fact, just last month, my client Tom Smith said those very words about me on LinkedIn.”

3. Quote a brief excerpt in your LinkedIn Summary.

This not only makes the summary more powerful, it also encourages the reader to scroll down and read the rest of that recommendation, and the others too.

“I’m honored that VP of Marketing Brenda Brown calls me ‘an endless innovator and incredibly fun to work with’ (see “Recommendations” below).”

4. Use them to “prove” your key selling points.

Let’s say the top three things you want employers to notice are (1) your track record of measurable results, (2) your advanced degree, and (3) your exceptional interpersonal skills.

Selling points (1) and (2) are verifiable facts. Point (3), however, is hard to prove to someone who has never met you. Get someone to vouch for those interpersonal skills in a recommendation.

5. Use them to counteract a possible negative in your profile.

For example, if you’re currently unemployed or have a gap in your work history, a positive recommendation from the boss can reassure prospective employers that your departure wasn’t due to poor performance.

6. Go beyond “what you did” to “how well you did it.”

It’s easy to describe your job duties, but harder to show what was special about the way you did your job. People who have worked with you can vouch for that, right there online for all to see.

7. Make sure your awesome testimonials will have plenty of chances to be seen by the right people.

Optimize your profile to be found by recruiters who are looking for an excellent candidate like you!

Used effectively, LinkedIn recommendations can be a powerful tool to enhance your credibility and get a new job.

Tips from the New Resume Writing Book I’m In!

Resume from Modernize Your Resume Resume bookBuild a more compelling resume by using the tips below from Modernize Your Resume, a new book of advice illustrated with resumes from noted resume writers including myself.

This image of the page featuring my resume for “Steven Sanchez” isn’t large enough for you to read. That’s okay, because the lessons it demonstrates are clear even from a distance.

One lesson this resume teaches is that even a professional publishing company can make a mistake. If you look very closely at three columns near the top, you may notice that the indenting is uneven.

You can believe this sent me running to my file to see if I had made that mistake in the original. Nope, this error was introduced in the editing of the book. The moral of the story is: proofread, proofread, proofread!

Now here are some words of wisdom from the book’s authors, Wendy Enelow and Louise Kursmark.

Start with the Wow!

Figure out what’s most impressive about your experience and skills – your key selling points – and make sure they appear prominently near the top.

This resume (used by the kind permission of my client, whose real name isn’t Steven Sanchez), starts with a concise headline, subhead and summary that immediately communicate his key strengths and skills. I wrapped up the summary with an rave recommendation from his LinkedIn profile. Wow!

Improve Readability and Skimmability

Avoid large blocks of text, which are daunting to the eye. Here there is no paragraph longer than four lines. Each bullet item is surrounded by white space.

Here’s how to do this in Microsoft Word:

  1. Select Paragraph in the Format menu.
  2. Under Spacing fill in “5 pt” or “6 pt” in the After field.
  3. You can quickly copy that format to other bullets by using the Format Painter function.

Integrate Your Critical Keywords

This resume is loaded with the important keywords from his target job postings – keywords like buyer, strategy, negotiation, team leadership and management. I front-loaded a lot of those in the “competencies block” (the section with the checkmark bullets) but didn’t stop there, making sure they appeared throughout.

These three tips above are especially significant, but the book describes many other ways to ensure your resume looks contemporary, savvy and powerful. You can buy it from Emerald Career Publishing.

Get Help from a Certified Resume Writer

Even the best resume books can’t talk to you, look at your experience, and strategize for your unique situation. Contact me for resume coaching or writing, if you want to ensure your resume helps you get a great job, sooner!

10 Resume “Must-Haves”

10 Resume Must-HavesFor a great resume it’s important to include these 10 factors:

1: A clear focus on a specific role or type of job and how you are well qualified for it.

2: Emphasis on what you most want employers to remember about you – the top reason(s) why they should hire you instead of someone else. What’s your brand, your unique selling proposition?

3: Keywords. Find them by analyzing job postings. The most important keyword is your desired job title. Others are the crucial and/or hard-to-find qualifications for the job, such as an advanced degree or a certain software, process or subject matter.

4: Accomplishments/results/impact. How did you make a difference for your past employers?

5: Good, strong verbs, especially at the beginning of each bullet item in Experience. Here’s a good list.

6: The right format for you. Strategically choose to include the sections that work for you, in the order that works best for you.

The only required sections are Name, Contact Information, Experience. Common additional sections are: Headline, Subheads, Summary, Core Competencies (or Expertise), Skills (or Technical Skills), Education, Awards, Affiliations, Volunteer Experience, Additional Experience, Interests (if relevant).

7: Formatting that works well in Applicant Tracking Systems. An ATS is a system that “reads” resumes (generally only in .doc, .docx, .rtf or .txt formats) and uses the information to fill in a standardized candidate profile. Human resources personnel then do keyword searches through the profiles to find candidates to interview.

ATS’s are easily confused and may jumble or reject your resume if you use any of the following: unusual or expanded fonts, graphics, columns, tables or symbols; unusual section headings, and all-capitals (except for the section headings).

If you want a more eye-catching version that includes these things, okay, but if you’re applying for jobs via websites or email, use your ATS-friendly version. You could attach the fancy version as a .pdf, just for human eyes.

8: Clear, concise writing.

9: Correct punctuation, capitalization, spelling and word usage. You’d be surprised how many errors you may be making. Even professional writers see a lot of red ink when a copyeditor or proofreader has gone over their work. Hire a professional resume writer or copyeditor/proofreader.

10: Smart management of your career timeline. Be strategic in your choices about how far back to go, whether to include months or just years, and what jobs to include or leave out.

Nail all of the above, if you want a strong resume that gives you the best shot at a job interview!

In Job Search Communications, Taglines Work for You!

In Job Search Communications, Taglines Work for You!Getting a job is a matter of marketing communications.

You have a product to sell – your skills – but you have a lot of competition. You need to be able to very quickly, clearly and memorably communicate what differentiates you. That’s your brand.

A tagline is a one-liner that instantly conveys your professional brand.

“How would I use a tagline in my job search?”

Use it in your resume as a headline or in the summary, at the top of your social media profiles, on your business cards and in your email signature – so people “get it” about you, right from the start.

You can even adapt it for use as an elevator pitch in networking situations, and as your answer to “Tell me about yourself”  in job interviews.

Here are some good taglines people have used:

“PMP-certified Project Manager – Known for successfully leading multi-million dollar projects in developing countries.”

Great! This communicates a job title, a key credential, and a couple of specialties, all in less than 120 characters so it will fit as a LinkedIn headline, among other uses.

Or let’s say you’re the head of a recruiting firm and you want to emphasize your great interpersonal skills, including humor and communication. Here’s what recruiter Michael Bense has on LinkedIn:

“Head honcho, headhunter, sometime head-shrinker and living proof that the only good recruiter is NOT a dead recruiter!”

Here’s a more conservative tagline from a different field:

“Six Sigma Master Black Belt | Dedicated to process excellence in auto manufacturing”

Or you could get very specific about your great results, as this tagline does:

“Social Media Expert driving successful campaigns on a shoestring budget. 800%+ ROI in the past 12 months.”

When writing a tagline that will be used as a LinkedIn headline, include keywords that will help you get found by recruiters. The most important keyword from a recruiter’s point of view is the name of the job they’re trying to fill, e.g., “Project Manager” in the first example above. Or you can add your title before the tagline, as I’ve done here with the third example:

“Operations Manager – Six Sigma Master Black Belt | Dedicated to…” etc.

I’ll end this post with my own email signature, which contains my tagline:

Thea Kelley, CEIC, CPRW, OPNS – Personalized, one-on-one career services. Get a great job, sooner!

LinkedIn Can “Out” Your Job Search!

embarassed_anxious at computerThink your activities on LinkedIn won’t be seen by your employer because you’ve got Activity Updates switched off? Think again.

I don’t want to spread fear about LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a great tool that can be used safely even in a “stealth job search.”

However, too many job seekers think that setting the “Notify Your Network” switch to “No” means none of their activities will be announced to their contacts.

Yes, you can prevent certain updates from being sent to your contacts, but there are important exceptions – which could result in rumors that you’re searching for greener pastures in your career.

The following will generate updates to your contacts regardless of your activity settings:

  • Connecting with other LinkedIn members. However, you can prevent this by updating “Select who can see your connections” in Privacy and Settings. Set it to “Only You.” (Access Privacy and Settings via the dropdown in the upper right corner of your LinkedIn screen. Explore this page – it’s important!)
  • Group activity – but you can turn this off under Privacy and Settings.
  • Sharing content.
  • Following a University Page.
  • Following an Influencer, Channel or Publisher.
  • “Liking” shared content.
  • Upgrading to Premium (doesn’t apply to the Job Seeker version).

One more thing about Job Seeker premium: While most people won’t be able to see what version you have, if one of your  company’s recruiters is using LinkedIn Recruiter and happens to come across your profile, it will be labeled as a Job Seeker profile.

Don’t let any of this stop you from being an active LinkedIn user.

Just know what you can, and can’t, discreetly do on LinkedIn. When in doubt, Use LinkedIn Help. If you can’t find answers in the self-help sections, click the tiny “Contact Us” link on the Help Center toolbar. I use LinkedIn Help often, and I usually get a clear, helpful response from LinkedIn within a day or two. Sometimes I have to ask follow-up questions to clarify their answers, but that’s not hard to do.

Don’t run away from LinkedIn. Like any powerful tool, it should be handled with reasonable care. Used correctly, it can open doors.

How & Why You Need to Customize Your LinkedIn URL

How & Why You Need to Customize Your LinkedIn URLIf you have an excellent LinkedIn profile it’s generally a good idea to add the URL to your resume.

But not a cumbersome link like this! “”

Those numbers and slashes at the end are random and distracting.

Show your LinkedIn savvy – and save space in your documents – by customizing your LinkedIn URL. It’s easy and quick. Here’s how:

  1. In your profile, hover your mouse over the URL under your photo and click the gear symbol that appears next to it.
  2. You will now see the Public Profile Settings screen. On the right, under “Your public profile URL,” click the blue pencil next to it.
  3. In the box that appears, after “,” type your desired URL. The best URL is generally your first and last name with no capital letters or symbols, e.g. “yourname.” You might add an academic acronym like PhD or MBA if applicable.
  4. If that version of your name is not available, I suggest adding a middle initial, or your full middle name (especially if it’s short). As a last resort you can add a number. (Don’t use your birth year as the number. Even if you’re not concerned about age discrimination right now, in the future you feel differently.)

You have a total of 5-30 letters of numbers to work with (not including “”). You can change the URL if you change your mind, within limits (up to 5 times within 180 days – but who is as indecisive as that?).

A customized LinkedIn URL is a quick way to add a little more polish to your job search documents.