1. Welcome to the Art of Finding Work

Thank you, and welcome, for reading my column The Art of Finding Work, which I hope will become part of your job search journey.

COVID19 has had a significant impact on the job market. Millions of Canadians have been laid off, had their hours reduced and furloughed. Companies are reassessing if, when, and how they hire. Yes, there are fewer jobs out there, but there are still plenty of jobs—you just need to be strategic in your job search.

Here are my top 5 job search strategies.

  1. Have clear goals.

Reflect on your personal and professional goals. Start by asking yourself:

  • What excites you?
  • What are your non-negotiable “must-haves” for your next position?
  • What are deal-breakers?
  • What’s your minimum salary and benefits requirement?
  • Do you want to work for a start-up or a well-established company?
  • What type of culture are you looking for? (Never underestimate the importance of “cultural fit”.)

By reflecting on how you want your next job to look like, you’ll not be throwing (metaphorically) spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks. You’ll be focusing your time and energy on opportunities that are right for you.

  1. Freshen up your resume and LinkedIn profile.

Surprisingly in 2021, your resume is still the first document hiring managers ask for.

Make sure your resume has a clean format with plenty of white space. Don’t list every job you’ve ever had, just those that are recent and relevant.

Start your resume with a summary of your accomplishments and include any credentials, certifications, and relevant experiences. Highlight your achievements by numerically quantifying accomplishments (i.e., Successfully brought 75 new clients, surpassing the quarterly goal of 50.).

Keep in mind your resume is an organic document. When applying to openings, edit your resume to include phrases in the job description. Many employers use an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) to filter resumes. If the ATS doesn’t pick up relevant language, your resume will not be selected.

Give this same attention as mentioned above to your LinkedIn profile, along with having a professional profile picture.

  1. Write an enticing cover letter.

Your cover letter has one job: To get the reader to read your resume.

Customize your cover letter for each position you apply to, don’t simply repeat your resume. As with your resume, paraphrase the language found in the job description to show you’re a fit.

Use your cover letter to highlight your most relevant experiences. Don’t focus on what you want, which is obviously a job. Focus on explaining (READ: selling) what value you’d bring to the employer.

  1. Enlist Your Army.

It’s common knowledge most jobs are never advertised—the job postings online are just a fraction of current job openings. Most positions, I’ve read as high as 70%, especially those of senior executive, are filled via professional and personal connections.

Often the word “networking” has a negative connotation—it shouldn’t. Networking is simply connecting with people, the goal being for people to know you professionally and personally, and vice versa. I’m sure you heard the adage, it’s not who you know, it’s who knows you.

Right now, you have a network of people who can help you. Your family friends, neighbors, past colleagues and bosses, alumni, your barber, even your LinkedIn connections—anyone you touch base with regularly or have in the past, is a potential lead to a job opportunity. Start leveraging whatever current network you have while actively expanding your professional network.

Consider using a networking app, such as Invitly, LetsLunch, or Shapr. These apps will help you find professionals in your area who are open to meeting up for coffee or lunch.

  1. Subscribe to job alerts.

There’s no shortage of resources you can use to stay current with job openings. Indeed, Google for Jobs, Eluta, are just a few job boards you can receive job alerts from.

These sites curate from across the Internet job openings, which are then delivered to your inbox every day based on the criteria you specified. This saves you countless hours of not having to search job postings.

In next week’s column, I’ll discuss what is never mentioned, which is good news for job seekers—there’s no universal hiring methodology. 

2. There’s No Universal Hiring Methodology

Of all business activities, the most subjective is the hiring process. The hard truth: Human bias and gut feel are intricate parts of the hiring process, and therefore, there’s no universal hiring methodology. 

Ultimately the hiring process is an emotional process from both sides of the desk. What may be a deal-breaker with one interviewer would be shrugged off by another interviewer; such is the hiring process, such is life.

Do you like pizza? If yes, what toppings? When it comes to movies, are you into westerns, sci-fi, romances, action, thrillers? Do you find Seth Rogen funny? Dog, cat, or fish as a pet? Milk or cream in your coffee? 

Your infinite combination of preferences is your own. Apply this human truth to hiring managers and will understand why the hiring process is fraught with human biases.

Every job seeker asks: What are employers looking for? 

The answer: There’s no coalition of “employers.” Employers are individual HR managers, C-suite Executives, department managers, business owners, recruiters, with personal, specific pain points, coupled with their respective human bias looking for employees to solve their problems. 

My advice: Don’t overstress your résumé format, clothes, LinkedIn profile, mannerisms. While these do have importance, their importance varies wildly from employer to employer, from industry to industry, from region to region—from interviewer to interviewer. 

Well-meaning career coaches tell job seekers the formula for successful job searching is A + B + C = “You’re hired!” If at the core of every hiring decision is “gut feel,” how can there be a formula?

On both sides of the hiring desk, everything goes into “the mix” — past hiring mistakes, biases, commonalities. If you want to increase your job search success exponentially, stop chasing the wrong jobs and employers! Think: I’m not looking for a job; I’m looking for my tribe.

Look for employers who get you. Look for like-minded people. Look for where you feel comfortable. Look for employers you identify with and like to be proud to be associated with. I know, easier said than done, but well worth the effort.

Yes, there are fundamental principles to searching for a job, such as your résumé being typo-free, not chewing gum when interviewing. However, “principles” are elastic.

Consider this:

  • I hired someone who was over 20 minutes late for their scheduled interview.
  • I’ve hired candidates who asked, within 5 minutes of starting the interview, “What does this job pay?”
  • I’ve hired candidates who were unemployed for more than nine months.
  • I’ve lost count of how many candidates over 50 I’ve hired.

Everyone I ever hired came down to my being able to relate to their story.

Chances are you have a friend whom your other friends can’t understand why you’re friends with. Either you relate to some part of their story, share a commonality or in some way serve each other’s best interest. Whatever the reason, there’s a connection between you and your unpopular (misunderstood) friend. A similar scenario plays out every day throughout the corporate world. An employer’s employees don’t have to be perfect as long as they achieve the results their position requires.

As a job seeker, your primary goal is to connect with people who can assist in your job search, a topic I’ll cover in a later column. This explains why networking is the most efficient way to find a job. Networking lengthens the connection building runway, making you familiar. Therefore, when you participate in the hiring process, you have a much stronger connection than most of your competition will have. 

You may recall in last week’s column I mentioned this week’s column would offer good news. After reading this, I hope you embrace that all you can do is your best and be more of yourself. 

Stop trying to contort yourself into what you’re told employers are looking for. Keep top of mind that every job search journey is unique. Focus on the hiring manager’s pain and how you’d solve the problems the position you applied to exists to solve. Seek companies where you’d most likely fit in. During interviews, focus on making a connection with your interviewer. The positive shift in your job search results will astonish you.

3. 10 Ways to Make Your LinkedIn Profile Stand Out in 2021 – Part 1

In 2021 successful job hunting requires having a LinkedIn profile that’s current and optimized. It’s not enough to simply exist on LinkedIn. In this column and the next, I’ll provide ways to create a profile that’ll attract employers and hiring managers.

Your goal is to create a profile that attracts attention, says the right things, and is a catalyst to connecting you with people who can help you. LinkedIn can literally get your name in front of thousands of professionals in your industry. If you’re looking for a job, that’s huge!

Something to keep in mind: Employers will read through your profile before deciding to schedule an interview with you.

Here are the first 5 ways you can make your LinkedIn profile stand out:

  1. Add a headshot

It’s mind-boggling how many LinkedIn profiles don’t have a headshot, which is the equivalent of wearing a paper bag on your head at an industry tradeshow. Put a face to your name and add a profile picture, a good one. Your profile picture is the first impression people will get of you.

  1. Create an eye-catching headline

Your headline is right below your name and therefore the first thing your profile visitors will read. It’s your profile most valuable real estate. LinkedIn’s default settings will create your headline with your current position, but you can edit it to whatever you want. You have 120 characters to work with, so write something that will resonate. Envision the text of a billboard advertisement for you and what you do. Instead of just listing your job title, mention your specialty and how you benefited your company or customers. Write for your target audience. Are you speaking to industry peers, customers, or hiring managers?


Inside Sales Representative · SaaS · $68.8 M in Software Sales Generated Since 2016

This tells the reader your job, what you bring to the table, and enhances your credibility.

  1. Craft an interesting summary

Your LinkedIn summary is your opportunity to tell your career story with up to 2,000 characters. Spend some time crafting your story in a way that makes the reader say to themselves, I got to meet this person! Keep in mind attention spans are short; I don’t recommend you use all 2,000 characters. Keep your summary in the 1,000 – 1,250 characters range.

Your summary shouldn’t be rehashing your experience. Mention what you do well, where you’re a Subject Matter Expert (SME) in and what you’re able to bring to an employer. Keywords here is crucial! Use words strongly connected to your industry, while painting a picture of who you are as a professional.


As an information security analyst at Rockyview General Hospital in Calgary, I manage the day-to-day flow of information into and out of the hospital. With a focus on database management, my job ensures critical computer systems, medical files, and patient history remain active and never fail. My team and I stay updated on the latest trends in information security to not only keep Rockyview General Hospital safe but also on the cutting edge.

  1. Highlight your experience

You can do much better than merely cutting and pasting your resume onto your LinkedIn profile. Include past jobs you deem relevant to where you want your career to go and use three to five exciting and impressive bullet points for each job.

Use action words to show your responsibilities and what you accomplished (results) for your employer. Using numbers as much as possible, communicate the impact you’ve made, the initiatives you led, and the revenue influence you had (most important).


Directed launch of 12 new product lines, with total annual revenue of $1.3B.

  1. Use visual media

Like on Twitter and Facebook, you can add a background banner photo on LinkedIn. Your LinkedIn background banner photo should reinforce who you are and visually support your profile’s written portions.

LinkedIn allows you to connect other media to your profile such as YouTube videos, infographics, PowerPoints. Don’t be shy to be creative with relevant media to make your page jump off the screen and demand attention.

Next week I’ll provide 5 more suggestions to make your LinkedIn profile job hunt ready.

4. 10 Ways to Make Your LinkedIn Profile Stand Out in 2021 – Part 2

Last chapter I provided 5 suggestions on how you can make your LinkedIn profile, which in 2021 is a non-negotiable must-have for job seekers, to stand out. The suggestions were:

  1. Add a headshot
  2. Create an eye-catching headline
  3. Craft an interesting summary
  4. Highlight your experience
  5. Use visual media

I’ll continue with my next 5 suggestions:

  1. Customize your URL

Your LinkedIn URL (Uniform Resource Locator) is the web address for your profile. The default URL will have your name and some random numbers and letters (https://www.linkedin.com/in/nick-kossovan-647e3b49). Customizing your profile URL (https://www.linkedin.com/in/nickkossovan/) makes your profile search engine friendly; therefore, you’re easier to find. As well a customized URL invites the person searching to make some positive assumptions about you:

  • You’re detail oriented.
  • You’re technologically savvy.
  • You understand the power of perception (Image is everything!).

James Wooden, one of the most revered coaches in the history of sports, is to have said, “It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.”

To change your profile URL, go to the right side of your profile. There you’ll find an option to edit your URL. Use this option to make your URL concise and neat.

  1. Make connections

The more connections you have increases the likelihood of being found when hiring managers and recruiters, looking for potential candidates with your background, search on LinkedIn. Envision your number of connections as ‘the amount of gas in your tank.’

At the very least, you should aim to get over 500 connections. Anything below 500 LinkedIn will indicate your number of connections as an exact number (ex. 368). Above 500 connections, LinkedIn simply shows you have 500+ connections. Getting to 500 implies you’re a player on LinkedIn. 

As much as possible, connect with individuals you know personally, have worked with, met in a professional capacity (tradeshow, conference), is in your city/region and industry/profession. If you’d like to connect with someone you haven’t met, send a note with your request explaining who you are and why you’d like to connect. (This’ll be my topic in next week’s column.)

  1. Ask for recommendations and skill endorsements

This is vital to making your profile stand out! Employers want to know that others think of your work.

When asking for a recommendation, or skill endorsements, think of all the people you’ve worked the past. Don’t just think of your past bosses; also think of colleagues, vendors, customers — anyone who can vouch for your work and professionalism.

Instructions on how to ask for, and give, a recommendation, can be found by going to the LinkedIn ‘Help’ field (Located by clicking on the drop-down arrow below the ‘Me’ icon in the upper right-hand corner.) and typing ‘Requesting a recommendation.’ Do the same for skill endorsements.

TIP: It’s good karma to write recommendations, and endorse skills, in return and to give unsolicited.

  1. Keep your profile active

LinkedIn is not simply an online resume — it’s a networking social media site. To get the most out of LinkedIn, you need to be constantly active (at least 3 times per week). Write posts and articles. Check out what is being posted, especially by your connections. Like and share posts that resonate with you. Engage with thoughtful comments that’ll put forward your expertise.

Join groups that align with your industry and professional interests. Groups are an excellent way to meet like-minded professionals with whom to network and share ideas and best practices.

  1. Check your LinkedIn profile strength

It’s in LinkedIn’s interest that you’re successful using their platform. Therefore, they’ve created a ‘Profile Strength Meter’ to gauge how robust your profile is. Basically, this gauge tells you completion level of your profile. Using the tips, you’ll be given, keep adding to your profile until your gauge rates you “All-Star.” For instructions on how to access your ‘Profile Strength Meter,’ use the LinkedIn’ Help’ field.

The 10 tips I offered is a starting point for building a LinkedIn profile that WOWs! Jobseekers need to make the most of their profile to stand out in a sea of candidates, sell their skills, and validate their accomplishments. Make it easy for the reader to get a feel for who you are professionally. 

5. Write a LinkedIn Connection Request That’ll Get Accepted

Last Thursday, when I logged into LinkedIn, I had nine connection requests (on average, I get around 35 – 55 per week). Three were from recruiters, five from complete strangers, and one from a past co-worker. They all said the exact same thing, which is LinkedIn’s default connection message:

“I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.”

I’m no longer surprised when an invitation isn’t customized — I’m surprised when it is. Nothing announces, “I’m lazy,” more than an uncustomized request.

In last week’s column, I mentioned the importance of having LinkedIn connections to increase your profile’s visibility, reach, presence, and influence. The more connections you have, the more likely you’ll appear in search results and have a higher search ranking. 

Richard Branson once said: “Succeeding in business is all about making connections.” In 2021 there are no truer words.

Your first step towards increasing your LinkedIn connections is to connect with your low hanging fruits; people you already know. With pen and paper, list everyone you currently know and have known but lost touch with. Think of current and former colleagues, bosses, customers, suppliers, friends, relatives, neighbors, etc. Search for them on LinkedIn. 

TIP: Use LinkedIn’s search feature to search past companies you worked at and then click on ‘See all XXX employees on LinkedIn’

Connecting with people on this list should be as easy as clicking on the ‘connect’ button, adding a simple note, something along the lines of “Hi Bob, great to have found you here. Let us connect.” (In some cases, you may want to give some details to refresh the person’s memory of how you know each other.), and then click the send button.    

Now create lists of, for lack of a better word, strangers you’d like to connect with. Start by listing the companies you’d like to work for. Using LinkedIn’s search features and Google, find hiring managers, department heads, leadership team members, and those holding a human resource title at the companies you want to work for. Your next lists will be professionals in your field (focus on those in your region) and recruiters who work with your industry. 

The key to getting strangers to connect with you is your introduction. You must customize each connection request (you have 300 characters to do so). 

I like to open with, “We’ve never met,” and then why I’d like to connect. I have found being truthful about not knowing the person gets their attention.

Here are a few simple examples:

  1. Professional in your field (295 characters with spaces):

Hi Arlene,

We’ve never met. I came across a comment you left in the LI group Electrical Engineers Networking in Canada. I particularly liked your insights regarding using our industry jargon when interviewing, which I found thought-provoking. I’d like to connect and stay in touch.

– Nick Kossovan

  1. Hiring Manager (283 characters with spaces):

Hi Karam, 

We’ve never met. I’m currently searching for my next opportunity. For the last 15 years, I was at Telus, where I moved up to VP of Sales. I believe I’d be an asset to Rogers and would love to chat about how my background might fit any openings you may have. Can we connect?

– Nick Kossovan

  1. Recruiter (299 characters with spaces):

Hi Eric,

We’ve never met. I came across your profile and want to reach out to discuss potentially working together. I’m a social media strategist with 6 years of experience seeking new opportunities. I’d love to chat about whether my background might be a fit for any of your openings.

– Nick Kossovan

The time you spend crafting your invitations will be time well spent. A customized invitation to connect will be a pleasant surprise for the recipient and significantly increases your chances of being accepted.

As we all know, LinkedIn offers a huge opportunity to connect people who can assist you in your job search and career. Spend a few thoughtful moments writing irresistible LinkedIn connection requests, and you’ll start quickly building up your network!

Next week I’ll begin discussing how to create the hardest working document in business today, your resume. I’ll be guiding you on how to create a resume that WOWs!

Nick Kossovan, a well-seasoned veteran of the corporate landscape, offers advice on searching for a job. You can send him your questions at artoffindingwork@gmail.com.

6. Your Resume’s Goal: Aiming for WOW!

In 2021, antiquated as it may seem, employers and recruiters still ask for your resume (afterward, they’ll visit your LinkedIn profile and check your digital footprint). I don’t foresee this changing anytime soon.

Your resume is your primary marketing tool presenting a concise summary of your experience, skills, knowledge, credentials, and education. Envision your resume as a brochure selling what you’re able to offer employers. 

It’s no secret it’s raining resumes these days; therefore, your resume needs to be competitive. It needs to clearly show how you created value for your employers, not that you just put in clocked time.

Your resume will solicit one of 3 responses: 

  • No 
  • Yes 
  • WOW! 

You’re aiming for WOW!

There are 4 cardinal rules to follow to create a resume that WOWs:

  1. Respect your reader (Be a good date for the reader.)
  2. Create continuity (Show career progression.).
  3. Show quantified results. (Employers don’t hire opinions.)
  4. Don’t undervalue the importance of keywords. (Assume your resume will be vetted via an applicant tracking system.)

When I read a resume, I look for answers to the following questions:

  • Can I relate to your career narrative?
  • How did you add value to your current and past employers? 
  • What is your career direction?

Of the 1,000’s of resumes I’ve read; the majority are simply a list of opinions. The predictable “I’m a team player,” “I’m a fast learner,” “I’m detailed oriented” appear on almost every resume. Rare is the resume that quantifies. If you can’t quantify, then it’s an opinion.

HARD TRUTH: Employers don’t care about your opinion; they care about the results you can achieve. 

What you think of yourself is a far second to what your resume’s reader will think of you by what your resume conveys. Just because you claim to be XYZ does not mean you are XYZ. Prove it undeniably (i.e., “Exceeded quarterly sales targets.” vs. “For the past 14 quarters exceeded quarterly sales targets by $25,000 to $45,000.”)

Businesses revolve around numbers, so should your resume; keep this in mind when interviewing.

Remember my column a few weeks back, ‘There’s No Universal Hiring Methodology’? —there’s no such thing as a “killer resume.” Don’t sweat your resume’s format, or whether it’s in reverse chronological or functional. Focus on telling a great ongoing career story, quantifying your accomplishments, having no grammatical errors or typos, and keeping it to 2-pages. 

Your goal, the reason you want your resume to WOW, is to make the reader say to themselves, I must meet this person!

When it comes to your resume’s format, design it for skimmability. With a quick scan, the reader should grasp your expertise and have a solid understanding of your core skills, accomplishments (I repeat: Quantified), and career direction. Since the reader’s eyes naturally return to the left margin once it’s ready to move on to the next line of text, don’t center your text. Align your text to the left, even your section headings. This significantly improves readability. Don’t justify your text. This setting leaves uneven gaps between words making the text harder to read. 

You don’t earn points for creativity. All points are earned via your content. Creative resumes aren’t more effective than a 2-page resume that WOWs. Most employers find “creativity” frustrating. As well, assuming your resume will be passing through an ATS, a resume with bells and whistles can’t be read by the computer and therefore will be discarded. Save your creativity for your portfolio. 

One last word on your resume’s format, have generous margins. Resumes with text crammed edge to edge look messy and unprofessional. Bottom and top margins should be no less than 0.5″, your side margins no less than 0.75″.

The contents to include in your resume:

  • Contact information
  • Resume summary
  • Professional experience
  • Skills/Certifications
  • Education

I realize constructing a resume to do all the above-mentions asks a lot from a 2-page document; however, I’ve seen it done.

In next week’s column, I’ll discuss presenting your contact information, which most jobseekers don’t enough credence. In the meantime, brainstorm the following:

  • Details about your current and past roles
  • Accomplishments you’re proud of (remember to quantify)
  • How you compared to your peers
  • Career milestones and firsts

7. Your Contact Information - Make It Easy to Reach You

In the last article  I mentioned the 5 must-have sections your resume requires:

  1. Contact information
  2. Resume summary
  3. Professional experience
  4. Skills/Certifications
  5. Education

This column will deal with the first section, your contact information.

Regardless of how you design your resume, your resume begins with your contact information, which creates your resume’s first impression. The question: What information should you include?

Answer: Information that will make it easy for the reader to reach you, along with easily being able to view some of your digital footprints.

A great resume will contain the following contact information:

  • Full Name

Use the format [first name] [last name]. Don’t abbreviate or add “aka” (also known as), which I’ve seen done several times. Just ‘Nick Kossovan.’

  • Professional title

Right under your name, include your professional title. This will help your resume pass the ATS. 

IMPORTANT: Your professional title should mirror the position you’re applying for. Let’s say you’re applying for a “Project Manager” position, but your last/current professional title is “Junior Project Manager.” Whoever reads your resume will most likely discard it, assuming you’re underqualified for the position. 


As a rule, avoid words like “junior,” “senior,” and “level 2”. Simply state your professional title without creating what I call experience bias. 

  • Home address

Career coaches tend to advise not including your home address. I’m of the school of thought job applicants should be upfront regarding their current physical location. Besides, even in 2021, many hiring managers expect to see it, I am one of them. Not including your address may trigger a red flag, making the reader question why you left it off and wondering if you’d have a lengthy commute. 

The last thing you want is for your resume to trigger red flags!

There’s also the employer’s ATS (Applicant Tracking System) to consider. Often an employer will program terms found in an address’s anatomy (cities, province, postal codes). You want your resume to be as ATS friendly as possible.

Understandably you may be uncomfortable providing your home address. If this is the case, at least provide your city, province, and postal code.

  • Professional Email Address

Your email address needs to be professional, not something you created back in the day (CheesyPete33@gmail.com). Ideally, your email address should be formatted along the lines of [first name] [period] [last name] @email.com (nick.kossovan@gmail.com). If your first name, period, last name isn’t available with your current email provider, try other email providers (Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo, AOL, to name a few). Also try removing the period (nickkossovan@aol.com) or try your first initial, period, last name (n.kossovan@yahoo.com), or your last name, period, first name (kossovan.nick@outlook.com). 

  • Phone Number

Use the format [area code] [7-digit telephone number] — (403) 555-1234.

Besides basic contact information, you should include links to any relevant Internet presence you have. As you know, your digital footprint will be scrutinized before deciding whether you’re interview worthy. Making it easy for the reader to find you online can only earn you a few points.

  • LinkedIn

Make sure your LinkedIn profile is current, however, not merely a repeat of your resume. Job titles, dates of employment need to match those on your resume.

  • URLs to your personal website/portfolio/blog/video channels

If you have a website or personal blog that’s relevant to the job you’re applying for and positions you as an expert in your field, include it! The same goes for an online portfolio you may have. Then there are video channels, such as YouTube. Suppose you’re applying for a job as a chemist or science teacher. In that case, videos of you explaining organic chemistry will give you a competitive advantage, and therefore belong on your resume. 

Only put relevant social media profiles/URLs on your resume. If you’re applying for a Java Developer position, your Stack Overflow profile will be more appropriate than your Twitter account. However, if you’re applying for a social media management position, including your Twitter account, which has over 25,000 followers, would be beneficial.  

Never include social media accounts that are more personal than professional, such as Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat, however, presume employers will seek these accounts out.

Next I’ll discuss writing a resume summary that will make the reader want to read your resume.

8. Your Resume Summary Introduces You

Your resume summary is your introduction—use it wisely. These 2 – 4 sentences will be the first impression your resume makes and your second opportunity (Your cover letter is your first opportunity.) to have your resume read.

Many people start their resume with an objective statement (“Marketing manager looking for a position with a mid-size manufacturing company.”) — DON’T! An objective statement boils down to the obvious; you need a job. Such a statement focuses on your needs, not that of the employer. Concentrating on your needs can come across as you have a sense of entitlement, which is a turnoff.

When networking, composing your resume and cover letters, and especially during interviews, always communicate how your skills and experience can add value to an employer. Adopting a servitude mindset will set you apart from other job seekers.

It takes seconds for a hiring manager, HR manager, or recruiter to decide whether to discard your resume or give it some attention. It’s no secret that it’s raining resumes. There’s no shortage of qualified applicants knocking on employers’ doors and therefore employers can be choosy. Considering the cost of a wrong hire I can empathize with employers being picky throughout the hiring process. Therefore, your summary needs to answer the question the reader has: Should I take the time to read this resume?

Underneath your contact information, which I outlined in last week’s column, you need to add a summary. This summary gives the reader a sense of how you may be the right candidate for the position you’re applying for and can be an asset to their business or their client (if dealing with a recruiter). 

For your summary to encapsulate your career, skills, and value, it needs to cover: 

  • Previous relevant jobs and experience 
  • Core skill sets and strengths relevant to the position
  • Relevant accomplishments

You’ll have noticed the word “relevant” is repeated. Keeping your resume’s content and cover letter relevant is key to keeping your resume to 2 pages and having the employer envision you in the position/their company. Anything which isn’t relevant is a distraction—often, distractions get you rejected.

Yes, you’re rightfully proud of the 3 consecutive quarters you were employee of the month at the 7-Eleven you worked part-time to help pay for university, but 20 years later, you’re searching to lead an IT help desk. The same with mentioning you have a golf handicap of 8, which I admit if I had, I’d find hard not to bring up. 

Of course, suppose you’re applying to lead the IT desk for a national retailer or a golf club manufacturer. In that case, your 7-Eleven achievement or your golf handicap may have value worth mentioning.

Only include in your resume and cover letter information that makes a strong case why you should be interviewed.

Here are examples of a well-written summary.

Example 1:

Dependable Executive Assistant with over 9 years of professional experience. Keen to support Acme Corp. with excellent organizational and analytical skills. At Stark Industries, I optimized travel costs resulting in an overall reduction of over 30%. In 2018 I saved $45K a year by redesigning and implementing an updated call system.

Example 2:

Chartered Accountant with 7+ years professional experience. Seeking to leverage budgeting, cost, and revenue-maximizing expertise for Oscorp. At Nakatomi Trading Corp. I saved $4.5M by identifying low-margin transactions. I also optimized the pricing policy at Globex, increasing the customer retention rate to over 85%.

Example 3:

Enthusiastic software engineer with 8+ years of experience participating in the complete product development lifecycle of successfully launched applications. Eager to join Wayne Enterprises to deliver mission-critical technology and business solutions to Fortune 500 companies. In previous roles, reduced downtime by 15% and warranty costs by 25%. Identified and resolved a process bottleneck, which increased coding efficiency by up to 30%.

These examples get to the point and show (note the percentages, monetary values) the reader how the job seeker can benefit their business. 

TIP: Change your summary to speak to the job posting you’re applying to, mention the employer’s name, and the reason(s) the job exists.

Next week I’ll cover presenting your professional experience (Think of the numbers that make a business successful.). 

Nick Kossovan, a well-seasoned veteran of the corporate landscape, offers advice on searching for a job. You can send him your questions at artoffindingwork@gmail.com.

9. Presenting Your Professional Experience: Numbers Are Your Friends

Numbers rule the business world—revenue, headcount, process time, value increase, number of clients, inventory count, profit margin, credit rating, customer satisfaction score. Numbers indicate and measure success or failure, whether a business activity is positive or negative to the bottom line. You’d be hard-pressed to find a business decision made without some factoring in of “the numbers,” be it stats, cost, the potential return on investment. 

Hiring is a business decision.

To make a strong case for yourself (Envision your selling features.) throughout your resume use numbers, the language of business, to quantify your results and establish yourself as someone who can bring value to an employer. Using numbers shows you understand how companies operate and that they exist to make a profit. Most importantly, using results-achieved numbers displays your value. 

Which job seeker displays better value?

Candidate 1: Duties included taking field measurements and maintaining records, setting up and tracking project using Microsoft Project.

Candidate 2: Spearheaded the Hazzard County water decontamination project, finishing $125,000 under budget due to a 25% decrease in staff allocation time.

Which job seeker gives a clearer picture of their responsibilities?

Candidate 1: Supervised team leaders.

Candidate 2: Supervised 3 team leaders, collectively responsible for 40 CSRs answering 1,750 – 2,500 calls daily.

Which job seeker shows their work ethic?

Candidate 1: Completed first editing pass on articles.

Candidate 2: Reviewed and evaluated 50 – 75 articles per week, deciding whether to reject the article, forward it to the editorial team, or send it back to the author with revision suggestions.

Information quantified means something. Information not quantified is just an opinion. Most resumes are just a list of opinions, thus quantifying your professional experience will set you apart from your competition.

TIP: Always use bullets, not paragraphs, to describe your professional experiences.

For each position you list on your resume, ask yourself:

  • Did I increase my employer’s revenue? How?
  • Did I save my employer money?
  • Did I save time? 
  • Was my boss(es), colleagues, staff, customers, vendors, and leadership team members happier because of me? 
  • How did I contribute to improving my employer’s business?

When answering these questions, quantify (percentage, range, monetary, frequency, before/after comparison, ratio). Creating a resume that WOWs requires filling it with quantified results-rich statements.

  • Reduced customer complaints by 47% by implementing a formal feedback system. 
  • Improved product delivery time 22% after assigning clarified monthly job tasks to team members. 
  • In 2020, grew revenue 33%, and improved gross margin by 22%, by standardizing business operating procedures.  
  • Produced $1.75M in cost-savings after renegotiating the company’s supply and service contracts (14 vendors).  
  • Built sales organization from the ground up, hiring and training 15 sales representatives within 6 months. 
  • In 2019, generated over $7.25M in additional revenue by identifying, pursuing, and securing 4 new international contracts. 

As I mentioned a few columns back, your resume must clearly and succinctly answer one question: How did you add or bring value to your employers? When it comes to answering this question, numbers are your friends.

Something to keep in mind: The king of numbers, the only metric in business that matters, the one that keeps a business alive and profitable, is revenue. As much as possible, throughout your resume and cover letter, demonstrate the results you’ve achieved that were added value to your employer’s financial success.

Don’t write on your resume what’s become a cliche, “result-oriented.” Don’t write it on your LinkedIn profile. Don’t say it during an interview. Show your results! “In 2017, I increased sales by 29% by creating upsell opportunities for my 8-member sales team to offer.”

Additional tips when bulleting your professional experience:

  • Employment dates need to be month/year. Only indicating years is a red flag you’re trying to cover up employment gaps.
  • Under 2 Lines. Your bullets shouldn’t be more than 2 lines. 
  • The first 5 – 8 words are critical. When skimming a resume, the reader will likely read the first few words of a bullet then, unless their interest is piqued, move on to the next bullet. The first few words need to be captivating. 

Next week I’ll cover presenting your education, skills, and certifications. These need to demonstrate your career path, not that you simply attended classes.

Nick Kossovan, a well-seasoned veteran of the corporate landscape, offers advice on searching for a job. You can send him your questions at artoffindingwork@gmail.com.

10 Ways to Make Your LinkedIn Profile Stand Out in 2021 – Part 1

In 2021 successful job hunting requires having a LinkedIn profile that’s current and optimized. It’s not enough to simply exist on LinkedIn. In this column and the next, I’ll provide ways to create a profile that’ll attract employers and hiring managers.

Your goal is to create a profile that attracts attention, says the right things, and is a catalyst to connecting you with people who can help you. LinkedIn can literally get your name in front of thousands of professionals in your industry. If you’re looking for a job, that’s huge!

Something to keep in mind: Employers will read through your profile before deciding to schedule an interview with you.

Here are the first 5 ways you can make your LinkedIn profile stand out:

  1. Add a headshot

It’s mind-boggling how many LinkedIn profiles don’t have a headshot, which is the equivalent of wearing a paper bag on your head at an industry tradeshow. Put a face to your name and add a profile picture, a good one. Your profile picture is the first impression people will get of you.

  1. Create an eye-catching headline

Your headline is right below your name and therefore the first thing your profile visitors will read. It’s your profile most valuable real estate. LinkedIn’s default settings will create your headline with your current position, but you can edit it to whatever you want. You have 120 characters to work with, so write something that will resonate. Envision the text of a billboard advertisement for you and what you do. Instead of just listing your job title, mention your specialty and how you benefited your company or customers. Write for your target audience. Are you speaking to industry peers, customers, or hiring managers?


Inside Sales Representative · SaaS · $68.8 M in Software Sales Generated Since 2016

This tells the reader your job, what you bring to the table, and enhances your credibility.

  1. Craft an interesting summary

Your LinkedIn summary is your opportunity to tell your career story with up to 2,000 characters. Spend some time crafting your story in a way that makes the reader say to themselves, I got to meet this person! Keep in mind attention spans are short; I don’t recommend you use all 2,000 characters. Keep your summary in the 1,000 – 1,250 characters range.

Your summary shouldn’t be rehashing your experience. Mention what you do well, where you’re a Subject Matter Expert (SME) in and what you’re able to bring to an employer. Keywords here is crucial! Use words strongly connected to your industry, while painting a picture of who you are as a professional.


As an information security analyst at Rockyview General Hospital in Calgary, I manage the day-to-day flow of information into and out of the hospital. With a focus on database management, my job ensures critical computer systems, medical files, and patient history remain active and never fail. My team and I stay updated on the latest trends in information security to not only keep Rockyview General Hospital safe but also on the cutting edge.

  1. Highlight your experience

You can do much better than merely cutting and pasting your resume onto your LinkedIn profile. Include past jobs you deem relevant to where you want your career to go and use three to five exciting and impressive bullet points for each job.

Use action words to show your responsibilities and what you accomplished (results) for your employer. Using numbers as much as possible, communicate the impact you’ve made, the initiatives you led, and the revenue influence you had (most important).


Directed launch of 12 new product lines, with total annual revenue of $1.3B.

  1. Use visual media

Like on Twitter and Facebook, you can add a background banner photo on LinkedIn. Your LinkedIn background banner photo should reinforce who you are and visually support your profile’s written portions.

LinkedIn allows you to connect other media to your profile such as YouTube videos, infographics, PowerPoints. Don’t be shy to be creative with relevant media to make your page jump off the screen and demand attention.

Next  I’ll provide 5 more suggestions to make your LinkedIn profile job hunt ready.


11. Don’t Underestimate What Your Cover Letter Can Do

Hopefully, you’ve been reading this column religiously. If you’ve been implementing my suggestions, you’ll now have a stellar resume and LinkedIn profile. Congratulations, you’re almost ready to conduct a serious job search. Yes, I said “almost.”

With fingers-crossed, hoping the answer will be “No,” every job seeker asks: Is a cover letter necessary?

Do hiring managers read cover letters in 2021? Not all of them, but many, such as I, still do.

Whether the hiring manager reads your cover letter shouldn’t be your focus. Your focus should be, why take a chance? In previous columns, I’ve mentioned there’s no universal hiring methodology; thus, there’s no hard rule a cover letter is essential; however, why wouldn’t you want to give yourself every competitive advantage possible?

A cover letter will never be held against you by a hiring manager who doesn’t read them, but for those who do, not having a cover letter can mean your resume will not be read. As much as possible, throughout your job search, you want to stack the odds in your favour of getting a “yes” to move forward in the hiring process.

A cover letter is non-negotiable if:

  • the job posting instructs applicants to include a cover letter with their resume (Many job seekers will still apply without a cover letter.),
  • if you’re applying directly to a particular person whose name you know, or
  • if someone has referred you for the position.

Cover letters have one job—to get the reader to read your resume. Suppose your resume’s recipient doesn’t know you (a likely case). Why should they read your resume over the hundreds of other resumes they receive, many accompanied with a cover letter?

I read cover letters to assess your writing skills, a skill I value highly, and how well you can sell yourself—it’s a critical component of my decision-making process. Call me old school, but I view not having a professionally written cover letter accompanying your resume as being lazy. I don’t hire lazy, and I don’t know any hiring manager who does.

The power of a cover letter is such that it’s worth noting there’ve been several times where I’ve granted an interview based on the candidate’s cover letter, even though their resume was far from impressive. Yes, a cover letter can make up for flaws in your resume.

Most importantly, use your cover letter to tell me something that isn’t on your resume that’ll help me decide you’re worth my time to interview—convince me!

How do you make your cover letter convince the reader to call you in for the interview? First, grab them at “Hello.” Next, draw them into your professional story, making sure you’re coming across as a solid “Yes” to each of these questions:

  • Can this person do the job?
  • Will this person be liked?
  • Will this person fit in? (Are they “one of us”?)

Your cover letter is your first opportunity to explain your value proposition (What you’re able to bring to the employer.) and therefore stand out from the many other candidates just as qualified as you. It’s also your chance to explain the reason(s) for any gaps in your employment and what you’ve been doing during the gap(s).

There are 5 parts to a cover letter:

  1. Header (your contact information)
  2. Greeting the hiring manager
  3. First paragraph (introduction) – Grab the reader’s attention with 2 – 3 of your top achievements.
  4. Second paragraph (sales pitch) – Persuade why you’re the right candidate for the job.
  5. Third paragraph (closing, call to action)

TIP: When writing your cover letter, get into a headspace of writing to provide the reader with a sense of who you’re going to be should they meet you (presuming you’re invited in for an interview). Don’t be afraid to convey your personality; it’s your most straightforward high yielding approach to standing out from your competition.

Next week I’ll be covering the first two parts (header, greeting the hiring manager) of crafting a cover letter that’ll get the reader to read your resume. In subsequent columns, I’ll discuss how to write the first, second and third paragraphs. Yes, there’ll be plenty of examples.

Nick Kossovan, a well-seasoned veteran of the corporate landscape, offers advice on searching for a job. You can send him your questions at artoffindingwork@gmail.com.

12. Addressing Your Cover Letter to the Right Person Is Vital

A well-written cover letter, which is non-negotiable if you’re a serious job hunter, starts with your header and a greeting an actual person.

Most job postings don’t indicate a name to whom you send your resume. Application instructions are usually along the lines of clicking on an ‘Apply Now’ button or a website link. Ever-increasingly rare: “Please email your resume and cover letter to Gia at hr@tonyspizza.ca.”

Personally, I think employers purposefully omit the hiring manager’s name/contact information. They want to see which candidates have the hunger and ingenuity to find the hiring manager or department head’s name, office address and contact information. With the Internet, especially LinkedIn, you don’t require Sherlock Holmes investigative abilities to locate such information. Therefore, not doing so shows laziness and is an easy way to have applicants self-select themselves.

A clear signal of an employer wanting to have candidates self-select is when the posting mentions to whom the role reports to (Reporting to Chief Revenue Officer). This is an indicator to see which applicants will make the effort to find the person’s name/contact information and reach out to who may be their future boss.

Look at hiring from the employer’s view. Say a nation-wide furniture retailer posts on LinkedIn, Indeed and Glassdoor a Merchandise Planner position. The posting instructs applicants to apply on the company’s website. Conservatively, given today’s job market, this posting will attract between 400 to 600 applicants. What percentage of applicants do you figure will include a well-written cover letter, even if instructed to do so?  

Sadly, lazy job searching is common and what clogs up employers hiring pipelines.

As I’ve mentioned in previous columns, but worth repeating, you need to maximize your job-hunting activities by making sure you’re stacking the odds of getting a “yes” to move forward in the hiring process in your favour. 

There have been times when I posted a job online, instructing to apply through the company’s website, and received around 400 applicants. Those applicants who reached out to me got my attention, and I gave their resumes a serious read. Unless detrimentally unqualified, those who reached out to me got an interview invitation — they’d demonstrated initiative, which I value in an employee. I wouldn’t be hazarding a guess if I stated, “Employers like to see initiative.”

With the above, the head-scratcher is I always mention my name and job title in my job postings, yet still few contact me directly which makes my which applicants to invite for an interview decision much more manageable.

NOTE: Always follow the employer’s application instructions. After having applied accordingly, then reach out to the hiring manager. In your cover letter, indicate you’ve applied (I applied to the Principal Technical Analyst position posted on Glassdoor. This role speaks directly to my skill set and experience. I hope to be part of the hiring process, thus why I’m reaching out to you directly.) and then move into your cover letter.

You want your cover letter’s heading/greeting to be:


Ms. Betty Cooper

Vice President Marketing

Gringotts Wizarding Bank

4305 Pine Street

Breton, AB T0C 0P0

Re: Customer Service Representative Opening [Ref. ID: CS300-Breton]

Dear Ms. Cooper:

Finding the hiring manager or department head’s name, office address, and contact information is usually simply a matter of entering the company name and some keywords (Acme Inc., head of operations, sales) into the search bar of LinkedIn (start here). Then, after you’ve tried Google, try various search engines such as Yahoo, Bing, DuckDuckGo and Ask.com. Respective search engines use different search algorithms; therefore, a search of “Adrian Dobrow, Director of Finance, MomCorp” on Yahoo will yield different results than Ask.com.

TIP: When emailing your resume, your cover letter needs to be in the body of your email, not as an attachment. The purpose of your cover letter is to get the reader to read your resume. Having your cover letter in your email body will significantly increase the odds that your cover letter being read and giving it a chance to do its job. 

Next week I move onto how to craft the first paragraph (introduction) of your cover letter by grabbing the reader’s attention with 2 – 3 of your top achievements.

Nick Kossovan, a well-seasoned veteran of the corporate landscape, offers advice on searching for a job. You can send him your questions at artoffindingwork@gmail.com.

13. It Starts with Your Cover Letter’s First Paragraph

You may recall in an earlier column I stated whether requested or not, not including a cover letter is lazy. Most hiring managers don’t hire lazy, thus the importance of including a cover letter.

A cover letter is a one-page letter (no more than 250 words) whose job is to get the reader to read your resume, as well as persuade why you should be interviewed. At this stage of your job search, focus on getting interviews, not on getting a job offer. Job hunting is a step-by-step process.

Warren Buffett gives the following advice in Gillian Zoe Segal’s book “Getting There: A Book of Mentors” — “Focus on your communication skills.” His reason, “What’s essential is being able to get others to follow your ideas.” Persuasive writing displays strong writing skills; a skill employers value. Above all hard skills, I value communication skills the highest. I gravitate to candidates who show such skills. 

Remember, the reader will not be reading; they’ll be skimming. It’s paramount you start with how you can add value to the employer.

TIP: Paste your cover letter into Hemingway App (www.hemingwayapp.com). This free app will assist you in making your writing concise and clear. As well, it’ll highlight lengthy, complex sentences and common errors. 

After you greet the hiring manager (by name), you’ll begin your cover letter’s first paragraph. This is where the rubber first meets the road — you’ll be introducing yourself. Either you’ll grab the reader’s attention, and they’ll keep reading and open your attached resume, or they’ll click on the trash icon. 

I’ve read more than my share of boring cookie cutter cover letters. Most didn’t inspire me to keep reading after the first sentence. 

Your opening paragraph doesn’t need to be extravagant. Keep it simple and straightforward. State why you’re writing, the position you’re applying for and how you found out about the job opening.

Almost all job seekers start their cover letter with, “I’m applying for X job I saw posted on Y place.” This is a waste of a cover letter’s most valuable real estate. Lead with a strong opening sentence! 

EXAMPLE 1 (simple, to the point):

“I’m an IT professional with more than 15 years of experience looking for an opportunity to apply my skills in new ways. I’d love to bring my expertise and high energy to your growing development team at Sirius Cybernetics Corp.”

EXAMPLE 2 (show enthusiasm):

“I’m excited to see Clampett Oil is hiring an event manager who’s skilled at increasing brand awareness and driving growth with high-traffic events. I’ve attended several of your company’s speaking events. Their high calibre impressed me. With five years of experience coordinating events in the corporate world, I’m confident I’d be a great fit for the role.”

EXAMPLE 3 (show your results):

“Last quarter, I increased Gringotts Instagram followers from 6,377 to 11,633. I also executed two successful ad campaigns that generated over $28,000 in revenue. I’d love to bring my social media expertise to Oscorp as your next social media manager and expand your social reach and deliver above-average ROI.”

EXAMPLE 4 (mutual connection):

“When Alex Johnson, a former colleague, told me you were hiring for a Director of PMO, I knew I had to apply. Alex and I have worked together for many years, most recently on a complex data analysis project at Oceanic Airlines. He believes I’d be a good match for this position on your team.” 

TIP: It’s worth the effort to find or create a connection within the company you’re applying to and bring it to the hiring manager’s attention. Mentioning a connection will set you apart from the other applicants. This is the reason why those who understand the value of networking land the plumb jobs. 

An eye-catching first paragraph will be descriptive and robust. Action words such as “generate,” “deliver,” and “execute” will make your opening stronger.

Next week I’ll discuss your cover letter’s second paragraph, which is your sales pitch. I like to start with, “Let me draw your attention to two reasons why I’d be a great addition to (your team, your department, ABC Inc.).” For now, list 5 – 6 reasons, qualified, why an employer should hire you.

14. The Job of Your Cover Letter’s Second Paragraph Is to Persuade

Job hunting is a selling process. Those who embrace this job search truism shorten their job search.

There are two basic selling processes:

  • Transactional
  • Solution-based 

In transactional selling, the salesperson has limited options. Basically, they’re offering an inventory of products from a catalogue and negotiating a price (usually based on volume), payment, and delivery. Solution-based selling is more complicated. In a solution-based selling scenario the seller focuses on a specific issue or problem the customer faces and suggests corresponding services or products to solve that issue and customizes their offering accordingly.

Applying to a job posting, or a job opportunity you uncovered through networking, is comparable to solution-based selling. Keep this in mind as you write the second paragraph of your cover letter.

After telling the reader, in the opening paragraph of your cover letter, you’re the ideal candidate for the job, you must prove it; otherwise, your first paragraph was just your opinion. As I’ve mentioned in an earlier column, employers don’t hire opinions; they hire results. 

The second paragraph is your sales pitch. Here’s where you show the hiring manager you’re a good fit for the position. This is done by choosing 3 – 6 experiences/skills/traits that connect your accomplishments with the job posting’s job requirements. Remember, numbers and metrics are essential to making your “sales pitch” persuasive. 

Here’s an example:

For the past 8 years, I’ve managed Bravo Pizza’s Western Canada sales territory. I increased sales by 260% during that time, averaging $48,000 in sales every day, translating into approximately 12,000 pizzas/daily. This achievement required my making daily cold calls to sign on over 345 new grocery stores to carry Bravo Pizza’s line of frozen pizzas. I also implemented retargeting sales campaigns using Facebook Pixel and other data tracking technologies. As well, I created 10+ cold email templates that were adopted as a company standard. The bottom line is this: I’m able to hit the ground running and becoming a part of increasing Pumpkin Desserts’ revenue.

While this paragraph will do the job personally, I prefer bullet points. Using bullet points would redesign the above example to read as follows:

In reference to your requirements outlined in the Marketing Analyst job ad description, I can offer Pumpkin Desserts:

  • Over 8 years of sales territory management for Bravo Pizza, a nationwide frozen food company.
  • Increased sales from $6.8 million annually to $17.8, a 260% increase. ($48,000 in daily sales, which is approx. 12,000 pizzas)
  • Implemented retargeting sales campaigns using Facebook Pixel and other data tracking technologies. 
  • Created 10+ cold email templates that are now used company wide.

The bottom line is this: I’m able to hit the ground running and become a part of increasing Pumpkin Desserts’ revenue.

Which example is more readable (skimmable)? Bullets direct the reader to important information, information that can persuade them to read your resume, and that you might be worth their time to interview.

Don’t restate everything that’s on your resume. Cherry-pick experiences that make you a good fit for the position — make connections between what the employer is looking for and what you have to offer. 

Last week, I suggested you create a list of 5 – 6 quantified reasons (the more, the better) why an employer should hire you. Such a list will make it easy to fill in the bullet points to customize your cover letter. Hence, your achievements will be relevant to the position.

What makes me especially fond of using bullet points is its flexibility to add additional experiences/skills/traits without creating an overly enormous awkward paragraph. Appropriate additions will further increase your odds of your resume being read and receiving a call for an interview.

For example, could add one of the following:

  • McMaster University (DeGroote School of Business) — Bachelor of Commerce (2008).
  • Sit on the Canada Food Council Advisory board since 2016. 
  • Fluently bilingual. (English, French
  • Local Toastmasters (The North Toastmasters, Toronto, ON) club officer since 2013.
  • University of Waterloo — Sales and Marketing Fundamentals Certificate (2015).

To keep your cover letter concise, don’t exceed 6 bullet points.

My next column will discuss writing the third paragraph of your cover letter, a call to action. A call to action is an intricate part of the selling process.

15. Your Cover Letter’s Third Paragraph — Getting the Reader to Act

If you don’t ask, you don’t get.

In the 1992 movie Glengarry Glen Ross, Alec Baldwin’s character, Blake, gives a shape-up or ship-out speech to a group of real estate salesmen. He turns over a blackboard on which two sets of letters are written. One set of letters is “ABC.” Blake then shouts, “A-B-C. A, always; B, be; C, closing. Always be closing! Always be closing!”

To shorten your job search, envision you’re looking for your next client. Finding your next client is a sales process; therefore, you need to A-B-C. When you’re in A-B-C mode, you move through an employer’s hiring process much faster than passive job seekers.

A-B-C isn’t only for when you’re at the interview stage, intending to close the deal (obtaining a job offer). To get your network to inform you of job opportunities, get past gatekeepers, and especially to get that covenant interview, you need to A-B-C, which is why your cover letter’s last paragraph needs to be a call to action

Here are 3 examples:

With my 15+ years of sales management experience, I know I can quickly get up to speed as ACME Inc.’s next Sales Director. I’d welcome the opportunity to speak with you regarding my qualifications. Next Wednesday, I’ll reach out to schedule a call to discuss my thoughts on who to raise ACME Inc.’s ROI by 25% before year-end. I look forward to speaking with you.

I’m inspired by Callister Inc’s success in supporting homegrown businesses. I have several ideas for marketing strategies to increase profitability among your customer base and how I can grow your reach. I look forward to the opportunity to share my thoughts with you.

I’m looking forward to discussing my skills and my 10+ years of international hotel management experience. I’ve several suggestions I’d like to pass by you on how Grand Budapest Hotel can increase its occupancy rate, a challenge all hotels face during the current pandemic. Please contact me at (555) 916-225-5887 or mary.smitters@hotel.com any time. I’ll be in touch next Friday to follow up.

Your closing paragraph needs to:

  • Be decisive. Decisiveness projects confidence, which is not to be confused with arrogance. Confidence is a massive turn-on with employers.Before the hiring manager can feel (hiring comes down to gut feel) you can do the job, they need to feel that you feel you can do the job. 
  • Write to what you can do for the employer, not what they can do for you.
  • Offer a teaser. To use another movie analogy, think of Marlon Brando’s words in The Godfather, “I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse.” This sets the foundation for what’ll be discussed and therefore puts you in the driver’s seat.
  • Mention you’ll follow up. (Then DO IT!

The last point is a job search game-changer. Many career experts claim following up is overly aggressive. The way I see it, not following up makes you passive, which is a form of being lazy. I’m repeating myself; employers don’t hire lazy.

There’s been a few instances where I’ve been overwhelmed with resumes. Those who called me almost always got an interview. I can recall three times where I hired the person based on a “follow-up” phone conversation.

A few weeks back, a Regional Sales Director for a large pharmaceutical company told me when hiring a sales representative, he only grants interviews to those who follow up. This makes sense since sales success requires being comfortable making calls.

Bottom-line: Following up by phone will set you apart from your competition.

Of course, if the job posting says “No phone calls please.”, which is uncommon, you need to respect such instruction.

Regarding signing off, use any of the following:

  • Sincerely
  • Best regards
  • Sincere regards
  • Yours truly
  • Respectfully

As I’ve mentioned in an earlier column, there’s no universal hiring methodology. Don’t stress over small details, such as how to sign off. Throughout your search, focus on communicating how you’re able to bring results (value). Such focus will have you A-B-C.

If you’re wondering what the other set of letters Blake had written on the blackboard, they were AIDA — Attention, Interest, Decision, Action. This is what your cover letter needs to do.

16. As a Job Seeker There Are 3 Job Search Truisms You Need to Accept

A job search has many moving parts; your mindset is the most critical part. Tackling challenges, such as a job search, is easier if you have the right mindset.

Job search success isn’t achieved through wishful thinking — how you wish things to be. Success is achieved by adapting to, better yet embracing, realities, not beating your head against walls that won’t crumble down. 

The following are three “job search truisms” every job seeker needs to accept if they want to minimize their job search frustrations and mitigate the time it takes to find their next job.

  1. You’re not owed a job, career or even to make a living.

With a sense of entitlement being so prevalent these days, I often see bitterness amongst job seekers [“I’m not getting what I deserve.”, “I’m not getting what I want.”]. Anger hinders a job seeker, along with increasing false pride, which becomes an insurmountable obstacle.

The easiest way to be disappointed, unhappy, frustrated, angry, or become depressed is to have an expectation you’re owed. You, and only you, are responsible for your job search.

The upside of assuming no one owes you: You energetically help yourself. For many people, this is a massive mind shift! Approaching your job search with an “I’m helping myself” mindset gives you a considerable mental boost, which is to your advantage. As well, such a perspective will carry you through the roller coaster of emotions you’ll be dealing with throughout your job hunt. 

  1. Employers own their hiring process.

You may recall my column back in April, There’s No Universal Hiring Methodology. I brought up the fact, never mentioned by career experts, that no two hiring managers access candidates the same way. This also applies to companies — no two companies hire the same way.

As a job seeker, you need to accept that employers own their hiring process, which is their prerogative. A sense of entitlement has made it common today for job seekers to complain about how employers hire. What a waste of energy! Complaining won’t change how employers decide to hire. 

Many candidates try to circumvent the employer’s hiring process or skip steps. By following the employer’s application instructions, as frustrating as they sometimes are, you’re setting yourself apart from your competition. Being able to follow instructions is a prerequisite for any job. Thus, employers look for this “willingness to follow instructions” in candidates. 

  1. Today, networking is non-negotiable.

The most decisive route to job search success is to do what others are afraid to do, which is to network.

Networking is creating a fabric of personal contacts that can provide support, feedback, insight, resources, and information. In 2021, and for the foreseeable future, it’ll be raining resumes. Ask yourself: Who’s more likely to be hired, a stranger the hiring manager doesn’t know, or someone they’re somewhat acquainted with, or a referral? Your answer should convince you of the power of networking. 

It’s common knowledge most jobs are unadvertised. Undeniable, those who build and nurture a professional network land the plumb jobs. However, many job seekers create excuses [e.g., they’re an introvert, networking feels sleazy, everyone’s too busy to listen to them] to avoid networking, even though networking has proven to be the most efficient way to finding a job.

Whatever your hang-ups [READ: limiting beliefs] are about networking, get over it! As a job seeker, your primary goal is to connect with people who can assist in your job search. Nothing will get you into an organization faster than having an inside person vouching for you.

Here are a few tips to get you started networking:

  1. Reconnect with old colleagues and alumni you’ve lost touch with.
  2. Leverage social media — connect with people online [LinkedIn, Facebook].
  3. Become comfortable talking to strangers.
  4. Read: Coffee Lunch Coffee: A Practical Field Guide for Master Networking, by Alana Muller
  5. Read: Never Eat Alone: And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time, by Keith Ferrazzi

A job search is a huge undertaking. Having a mindset aligned with today’s job market’s realities is key to achieving job search success in the least amount of time. Mindset is everything!

17. Interviews Are Modern Greek Tragedies

Odds are the person interviewing you has a similar story as mine—they developed their interviewing skills “on the job.” Executives and managers are thrust into the recruiting part of their job without first developing skills to evaluate talent.

Outside of human resources, those whose job requires them to assess and interview candidates get little to no training. I never received any formal training regarding how to interview and evaluate a candidate. Yet, I’ve interviewed 1,000’s throughout my career. 

I admit I stumbled through my first 150 – 200 interviews. I developed my interviewing skills, a skill I knew would serve me well, on job candidates, which I now admit was unfair to them. 

Hiring the right people who’ll fit with the position, team and company can’t be overstated. I keep British-American author Simon Sinek’s words top of mind, “If you hire people just because they can do a job, they’ll work for the money. But if you hire people who believe what you believe, they’ll work for you with blood and sweat and tears.”

Since finding work is seeking approval, I often think of interviews as conduits to modern Greek tragedies.

We spend much of our youth and adulthood seeking approval, trying to “fit in” with the right clothes, car, house, job, etc. We’re constantly aware we’re being judged—a cause of much of why we second-guess ourselves and the stress this causes.

  • Am I good enough?
  • Do I fit in?

You desperately want to hear, “We want you.”

WARNING: Three interview truths coming.

  • When interviewing, everything goes into “the mix”—past hiring mistakes, bias, prejudices, commonalities.
  • At the core of every hiring decision is gut feel.
  • Likability is the most valuable currency a job seeker has, trumping education, skills, and experience.

When a candidate is sitting in front of me, I’m asking myself:

  • Will this person fit in with the current team members and the company’s culture?
  • Will this person be seen as a good hire by my boss and peers, and the team? (A bad hire = bad judgment, which is an X against my reputation.)

Acing an interview is extremely hard. Much of your success depends on whom you’re speaking to, and humans are the ultimate moving target. The best you can hope for is to stack the odds in your favour and hope your interviewer is in a good mood.

Keep top of mind: An interview is a sales meeting, and hiring is a business arrangement. 

When interviewing, your job is to establish rapport (READ: connection), build trust and achieve the following goals of making the interviewer:

  • Believe in you.
  • See you as a fit.

You achieve these goals by:

  • Clearly demonstrating what value you can bring to the employer. Connect how yourtrack record, which needs to be quantified; otherwise, it’s just your opinion, would be an asset to the employer. 
  • Presenting yourself as a problem solver. If you look at work holistically, you’ll realize every position within an organization exists to solve a problem(s). How can your experience and skills solve the problem(s) the position you applied to exists to solve?
  • Asking good questions. By asking good questions, your interviewer will talk about their pain points. You can then explain (sell yourself) how you’d go about solving their pain point.

Three things worth noting and using as guidance when interviewing:

  • An employer will hire you if they’re convinced you’ll bring more value than you cost, therefore offer as much value as possible.
  • Problem solvers, those with a proven track record of solving their employer’s pain points, will always be in demand.
  • People don’t have short attention spans. They have short interest spans. Make your interviewer interested in you!

There’s no blueprint to guarantee interview success. All you can do is stack the odds in your favour as much as possible. However, there’s one universal interview rule that’ll tip the odds in your favour: Always tell the person sitting across from you what they want to hear. When you develop the ability to read your interviewer and comfortably offer solutions to their pain points, you’ll have developed solid interviewing skills. Such skills will mitigate the number of Greek tragedies you’ll experience

18. The Purpose of a Job Interview

If I were to ask you what’s the purpose of a job interview, you’d probably say something along the lines of, “To show what I can do for the company.”

You’d be right in that your answer implies you’re asking for a chance—you understand an interview is a sales meeting, which is the mindset you need to have when being interviewed. 

People stress preparing for an interview. Actually, the key to a successful interview is to not over-think it. Although there’s no interview formula that’ll work every time, it’s helpful to think of an interview as a conversation with four distinct but overlapping purposes.

  • Connect: Get to know the interviewer. (bond)
  • Culture: Understand what type of person works best at the company.
  • Challenges: Identify and clarify the concerns the company’s management team has.
  • Close: What are the next steps in the hiring process.

The holistic mechanics used to achieve these four purposes are the following five interview stages: 

  • Introductions (connect, culture)
  • Small Talk (connect, culture)
  • Information Gathering (culture, challenges, matching your experience and skillset)
  • Question/Answer (culture, challenges)
  • Wrapping Up (close)

Notice “culture” appears four times. I can’t overstress the importance of fit when it comes to deciding you’re “the one.” If you’re having a tough time with your job search, it’s because you’re trying to fit yourself into jobs and companies where you don’t belong.

If you make connecting with your interviewer a priority, you’ll be memorable in a good way. If there’s no connection, your experience, qualifications, etc., are meaningless to the interviewer. This isn’t a transgression—this is human psychology 101. Maya Angelou’s words, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” offers sage advice.

Truism: We’re incline to want to work with and do business with (READ: “buy from”—remember, an interview is a sales meeting.), someone who makes us feel good and whom we can relate to—people we feel comfortable with. You can call it bias—I call it what it is: human nature. As much as the government has tried to mitigate bias through numerous legislations, bias continues to exist and always will. 

Getting someone to feel at ease with you doesn’t require repartee and dazzling verbal displays. It simply requires demonstrating interest—genuine interest, not fake I’m-trying-to-butter-you-up interest—and a willingness to listen. Do you know anyone who doesn’t like being paid attention to?

Listening is key to understanding what the other person wants and needs and, therefore, is the foundation of persuasion. (Reminder, an interview is a sales meeting.) A person is more likely to want to build a relationship with someone who understands their situation, their problems, and their goals. Listening and observing to understand another person is never time wasted.

When it comes to asking questions ask questions that show you’re eager to contribute to the company’s success and not what you can get from the company. 

While there are infinite number of questions you could ask your interviewer, there are three questions to always ask:

  1. How is success measured in this role?
  2. What skills and attributes are valued by you and the leadership team?
  3. [If your interviewer will be your boss.] What’s your management style like? How will you manage me?

Listen carefully! Be ready to interject examples of how you exceeded expectations and demonstrated the skills your interviewer mentioned are valuable.

The most common interview advice I give: Lose any sense of entitlement you may have! You’re not owed a job. With so many human factors being part of the hiring decision, the best candidate on paper doesn’t always get the job. Entitlement is a huge turnoff.

Employers aren’t going to offer you the job because you only have $350 in the bank, and your mortgage is past due. The position will be offered to the person regarded as qualified to do the job (skills, experience) and is considered to be a fit (this is paramount)—the person the interviewer can envision working with, will fit in with the current team and whom they can see themselves dealing with daily and will meet their boss’s approval.

19. 5 Ways You Can Make Yourself More Employable

How it happened—you were fired, downsized, your employer went out of business, or you just had enough and quit your job impulsively—is irrelevant. How you ended up on the job market doesn’t change the bottom line: You’re now looking for a new employer.

Jobseekers fall into one of two categories:

  • Easily Employable (Has in-demand skills, coupled with a track record of producing results, presents themselves professionally, is articulate, easy to like, and energetic. Such a jobseeker is a no-brainer to hire.)
  • Hesitant to Employ (No, or few, hard skills, no compelling career story, comes across unpolished, is desperate for a job. Hiring such a jobseeker is taking a chance.)

You want to be in the “Easily Employable” category.

Besides having a resume that WOWs, and a LinkedIn profile that attracts hiring managers, you should be filling your time between jobs with activities that’ll place you in the easily employable category. Also, keep in mind, unfair as it may seem, employment gaps are frowned upon. Therefore, expect interviewers to ask you to explain what you’ve been doing since you left your last job.

When you’re unemployed, don’t just spend an hour or so a day applying to jobs online, which is the equivalent of playing the lottery (You’re expecting a stranger to hire you.). Use your newfound free time, making yourself easily employable.

Here are 5 ways you can do so:

  1. Add to your skillset!

Upskilling is the best way to make yourself easily employable. Ask yourself: What skills do I need to acquire to give me an edge over the many qualified candidates vying for the same jobs as I am?

Consider certificate programs, online courses (many being free), workshops, webinars, video tutorials, and joining relevant professional associations. Proactively staying relevant in your industry is a turn-on with hiring managers.

  1. Temp Work

Regardless of where you are in your career, signing on with temp agencies (aka. staffing agencies) is an excellent in-between-jobs option. Temp work provides an opportunity to network within different companies and learn new skills. Networking, as you know, is how highly sought-after jobs are uncovered. With the proper mindset, temp work can morph into you becoming an FTE (Full-Time Employee).

  1. Part-Time Work

Securing a part-time job is easier than trying to become an FTE. Like temp work, a part-time job allows you to hone your current skillset, and build new ones, while receiving a paycheck.

While it would be ideal to find a part-time job in your industry, this doesn’t have to be the case. Envision what transferable skills you can gain from a part-time opportunity and how they can be applied to your target job?

  1. Volunteer

Volunteering, whether or not you’re employed, is a great way to refine your skillset, acquire new skills, and network with like-minded people. Find organizations in your area that relate to your field or interests and start making a difference in your community and being easily employable!

  1. Participate in social media

Social media platforms, websites, and online forums offer digital communities where you can connect with other professionals. LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, et al. provide low-hanging fruit opportunities to search and “friend” or “follow” and engage with professionals in your field as well as executives and hiring managers at companies you’re interested in joining. Surprisingly many still don’t take full advantage of the networking opportunities social media platforms’ innate nature provides.

An often-forgotten branch of social media is blogging. While many use blogging as a digital channel to share their personal lives, some use it strategically to further their career. What advice, insight, ideas, or issues can you write about your industry?

Follow bloggers in your industry to see what they write about and how they position themselves as an SME (Subject Matter Expert). Leave comments that offer your opinion(s).

Writing about things that matter in your field is a huge step towards establishing yourself as an expert in your industry. When hiring managers Google you (they will), they’ll be impressed to see you’re actively writing about your industry.

When it comes to today’s job market and competing with other qualified candidates for those elusive top career opportunities, you want to be easily employable.

20. As a Job Seeker Look for Your Tribe

If you’re having a tough time with your job search, I guarantee it’s because you’re trying to fit yourself into companies where you don’t belong. 

The advice I give most often to jobseekers: “Search for your tribe!

Years ago, my wife was working for a printing company. A colleague was describing a party he had attended during the weekend. The people in attendance didn’t feel right, thus he didn’t stay long. He then said, “I always go where I’m celebrated, not merely tolerated.” What a great mindset to have!

I believe much of our mental anguish, frustrations, unhappiness, and failures stem from trying to “fit in.”

We’re desperate to hear:

  • “We want you.”
  • “Please join us.”
  • “We like you.”
  • “You’re who we need.”
  • “We love you.” (the ultimate heart-tugger

Seeking employers who’ll most likely accept you, where you’ll feel you belong, will expedite your job search; you may even hear the above-mentioned words.

Making finding where you belong a priority is the best compass a job seeker can use. Don’t look for a job. Instead, look for where you’ll be accepted. Think: “I’m not looking for a job; I’m looking for my tribe!”

Envision you’re joining a group that makes you feel you’re one of them (e.g., community theatre, professional organization, church, car club, soccer team). Being part of a group of people who share your values and interests, who welcome you into their circle, who when they say “we” mean you also is a good feeling.

Joining a company is the equivalent of joining a group.

Work takes up a significant chunk of your time. It makes sense to ensure your workplace embraces your individualism, age, gender, values, and beliefs—that it’s a place where you can be yourself rather than always trying to belong.

From personal experience, the extra mental load of trying to “fit in” created stressors resulting in anxiousness when arriving at work, coming home frustrated and angry, and having trouble sleeping. Sound familiar? It wasn’t the job, but the atmosphere and conditions I was trying to mold myself into that were causing these mental torments. During my working hours, my internal dialogue revolved around trying to convince myself that my experience was typical of all employees. After all, I wasn’t at work to have fun—I was there to work.

Eventually, I started to realize my approach wasn’t working for me. So, I asked myself: What do I want to be accepted for? (age, gender, affiliations, values, beliefs, skills). Answering this question required soul searching. 

If you’re more comfortable working for a female boss, so be it. If you want to be surrounded by Millennials because you feed off their energy, so be it. Who has the right to judge you if you get along better with people who are politically conservative? Are you more at ease dealing with people of your cultural background—who isn’t?

The difference between feeling like you’re the only freak show at the circus versus feeling like you’re sitting right at the heartbeat of where you’re meant to be is the people you surround yourself with.

There’s an enormous benefit that comes with searching for workplaces where you won’t need to constantly spend your energy trying to fit in; you’re job-hunting with a purpose beyond simply trying to secure a steady paycheck. 

Being a fit is at the core of every hiring process. When you get to the formal interview stage, it’s because you have the qualifications to do the job; otherwise, you wouldn’t be interviewed. The hiring manager is interviewing you to gauge if you’ll be a fit. Since being a fit, is a 2-way street, use the discussion to gauge if you’re a fit. At the end of the day, only you know you and what works for you.

Finding your tribe boils down to being honest with yourself about the kind of people, conversations, connections, and social interactions that feed your soul and, therefore, where you’ll do your best work.

On a parting note, not being a fit, either early in your employment or down the road, is the number one reason employees are fired. Don’t underestimate the correlation between being a fit and your employment longevity.

21. Should You Use Recruiters?

A common question amongst job seekers: “Should I use a recruiter?” 

Recruiters can be a great way to advance your job search, however, keep in mind recruiters are just one job searching avenue.

There are several pros and cons to using recruiters. I’ll start with the cons.

Recruiters make you expensive to hire.

To employ a recruiter’s candidate the employer will pay between 15% — 25% commission based on annual salary. To overcome this hurdle, you need to be a candidate worth paying for. As well, you’ll probably be up against candidates who won’t cost money to hire. 

Candidates who are slightly less qualified (they don’t have all the “nice to have” skills) but have approached the employer directly will be more appealing since they don’t have a price tag. 

TIP: As much as possible, apply directly to employers.

Recruiters don’t care about you.

This is a harsh truism. The company pays the recruiter for their services; therefore, the recruiter works for the company, not for you. Whose interest do you think a recruiter will look after, yours or their client’s?

Every so often, remind yourself of this truism, especially after speaking with a recruiter who said they’ll have no problem placing you. Avoid developing a false sense of security with recruiters.

Recruiters will tell you they’ll help you negotiate the best salary possible. Their sales pitch: The more you get paid, the more commission they make. Think of how a realtor works when selling a house. If the house sells for $40,000 less, the realtor’s commission is only marginally impacted. The same principle applies to recruiters. 

A recruiter’s priority is to make a placement, to stop the hiring process and possibly a competing recruiter (rare is an employer who uses a recruiter exclusively) making the placement. Your starting salary is a far second concern. Besides, the employer will be paying a commission, based on your salary, to hire you. Do you think a recruiter is in a good position to negotiate a higher salary?

You’re not networking.

Recruiters are appealing because of their network and visibility to hidden job opportunities. For many job seekers the biggest appeal of using recruiters is it absolves them from having to network. If you use recruiters exclusively, you’re not building a network of your own. You know much of career success today is based of having a professional network you can tap into.

Here are the pros of using recruiters as part of your job search.

Recruiters can save you time.

If you’re currently employed, there are only so many hours you can devote to your job search. Employed or unemployed, by using recruiters, you lighten, to a degree, your job search workload. Though this rarely happens, if a recruiter feels your skillset and experience are in high demand, they’ll act as a job search partner.

Recruiters see more job opportunities than you will. 

It’s common knowledge, not all job opportunities are posted on job boards. Many companies don’t use job sites; they only post available jobs on their website. Then there are companies, especially those which are small and service a niche market, who rely solely on recruiters to find candidates. Then there’s the common reason companies use recruiters; to conduct a confidential search. 

You’ll be part of the recruiter’s database.

Unless your interview was a complete disaster or you didn’t pass the criminal background check—anything that would prevent a recruiter from presenting you again to one of their clients—you’ll part of the recruiter’s database, which is a good place to be.

All recruiters keep a database of potential candidates. The majority use an applicant tracking system (ATS) to quickly sort and track candidates. Basically, ATS software pulls specific information from your resume and matches it to relevant jobs. When a recruiter has a new job opportunity, they first check their database for suitable candidates. I can attest, being in several recruiter databases has paid off for me on several occasions.

Considering everything, I think it’s a good idea to use recruiters to supplement your job search. However, when searching for a job, it’s wise to heed the advice of the adage “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” 

22. You Believing Hiring Should Be Fair is the Problem

Unless you’re getting job offers, you probably perceive how employers hire to be unfair. 

Every job seeker has a list of why they’re the most deserving over all the other job seekers—they’re:

  • qualified, skilled, educated…
  • beautiful, charismatic, authentic…
  • a cum laude graduate.

You’d benefit greatly by changing what you tell yourself when your application to the “perfect job” doesn’t get a response or you weren’t hired after multiple interviews. Reframing your concept of “fairness” will prevent you from playing the most unproductive game there is: “I’m a victim!”

Accepting the following two hiring realities is key to stacking the odds of getting hired in your favour, which is really all you can control. You’ll also be creating some semblance of hiring fairness for your psyche, which is a mental state that’ll give you a competitive advantage.

First hiring reality: Employers own their hiring process. 

Employers design their hiring process to serve their self-interest, not the job seeker’s. This is why those with a sense of entitlement, when not hired, feel employers hiring processes to be unfair—their self-interest wasn’t served. (The person hired serves the employer’s self-interest.) On the other hand, when our self-interest is served, then we feel we’ve been treated fairly. 

TIP: Through every step of the hiring process, clearly communicate how you can serve the employer’s self-interests. 

Second hiring reality: Applying online is the equivalent of playing the lottery. (You’re hoping a stranger will hire you.

I hear this all the time: “I applied to 100 jobs online and haven’t heard back from one employer.”

When you purchase a lottery ticket, you accept the fact lottery odds favour the ticket seller. The same principle applies to when you apply to an online job posting. This is why those who network land the plumb jobs. Those connected have access to the hidden job market, which has much less competition and thus better odds of landing a job. 

Say 350 people answer an online job posting. (In today’s job market, this is on the low side.) Only one person will be hired. To soothe themselves why they weren’t chosen, the 349 rejected candidates will lean on an ‘ism’ (e.g., ageism, racism, nepotism), or my favourite; they were “overqualified.” Okay, maybe 217 rejected candidates will lean on a false narrative; the other 132 will quickly move on. Your odds were 1 in 350! (0.28%) Was the hiring process unfair to the 349 applicants not selected? Would you bet on a horse with 1 to 350 odds?

Why would you expect the outcome to be fair when you choose to play a game where the odds are stacked against you? Now suppose you view rejection (READ: not winning) as altering your path but not blocking it. With such an outlook, you’ll eventually realize you arrive at most of your endpoints by sheer luck. I believe luck (for the most part) can be created.

Believing you can create “job search luck” is a huge step to achieving the frame of mind you need to succeed in your job search. 

Four ways (there are many more) you can create job search luck:

  • Make networking a priority. Go out and meet with people who can help you in your job search. 
  • Have a results-oriented resume and LinkedIn profile. The majority of resumes and LinkedIn profiles are a list of opinions. For your resume and LinkedIn profile to be competitive, you need to clearly communicate how you created value for your employers, not that you just put in time.
  • Be in constant professional development mode. Know what skills are in demand within your industry/field and learn them.
  • Be flexible. Be open-minded to all opportunities which come on your radar, not just those that fit your wish list. You can surprise yourself by taking a less than ideal job, making the best of it, and finding you enjoy your new employment. 

Of course, life being what it is, you can do all the above and more and still get rejected. Move on! Don’t dwell on “Why nots.” Instead, focus on creating luck throughout your job search by stacking the odds of getting a “Yes!” in your favour. Such focus will create job search luck, and you’ll feel how employers hire to be a bit fairer.

23. Present Yourself as a ‘No Brainer’ to Hire

A few jobs back, HR had scheduled four interviews, throughout my day, for a position I had open. The first interview went “okay.” The second candidate, however, impressed me so much I hired him on the spot. I instructed HR to cancel the remaining two interviews.

The second candidate did something I rarely see—they presented themselves as a ‘no brainer’ to hire. 


  • Their resume was result-oriented (Not a list of opinions — “I’m a team player,” “detail-oriented,” “hard-working,” etc.). 
  • They dressed as if they were already employed with my company. (In this case, a global multi-brand tour operator.
  • They clearly articulated their value. 
  • They told me several STAR (Situation. Task. Action. Results.) stories I could envision and relate to. 

If your resume (skills and experience) impressed the employer, and after reading your LinkedIn profile to determine if you’re interview-worthy, you’ll be invited to an interview—the first most likely being via Zoom or Skype.

Impressing someone on paper and via your LinkedIn profile has its challenges, especially since you’re competing against many other candidates just as qualified as you. However, where the rubber meets the road is when you’re sitting face-to-face with the hiring manager.

Presenting yourself in a way your interviewer can envision you fitting with the company’s culture and the current team, as well as gives them confidence you’ll hit the ground running, will substantially increase your odds of receiving a nod of approval.


Regardless of whether you’re interviewing via video, sitting in a boardroom, a coffee shop or the interviewer’s office, focus on the following:

  1. Your attire
  2. Your body language
  3. Articulating how you meet the employer’s needs and will solve the problems the position exists to solve
  4. Being mindful of your interviewer’s time. 

As I’ve mentioned in a previous column, being deemed “a fit” supersedes your experience and qualifications. Your image is paramount in giving the impression you’re “one of them.” 

Make sure your attire is in line with the company culture. Obviously, this will differ from company to company, as well as between industries. If you’re interviewing for a position in a bank or insurance company, formal attire, even in 2021, is appropriate, such as a business suit, shirt, and tie. On the opposite end of the spectrum, casual clothing, even jeans and sneakers, can be acceptable if you’re interviewing with a design studio or tech start-up. The key is to dress as if you already work for the employer.

  1. Body language.

Your body language, along with your words, greatly influences the first impressions someone has about you. 

If you’re seated, say in the reception area, stand to greet your interviewer. Firmly shake your interviewer’s hand, or each member of your interview panel, while maintaining a broad smile and steady eye contact. Say something along the lines of, “Nice to meet you, Alice.” Remember your interviewer’s name and use it naturally throughout your interview. Maintain eye contact during the interview. This shows your interviewer(s) you’re engaged in the conversation. Speak in a clear and audible voice. Your posture can portray you as arrogant, so be conscious of the way you sit or stand. During the interview, display a natural body language with relaxed shoulders and open arms by your side. 

  1. Articulate how you meet the employer’s needs. 

This is where you solidify, you’re a ‘no brainer’ to hire. 

If you’re interviewing with the person you’d be reporting to, keep this piece of human psychology in mind: A person is more likely to want to build a relationship with you if you understand their situation, problems, and goals. 

Start with the job description. Now that you’ve landed an interview, refer to the job description, paying close attention to job qualifications and duties. 

Have STAR stories ready regarding specific situations in which you used each of these skills. Try to keep your STARs short and vivid. The best STAR ever said to me: “I sold Corvettes in Las Vegas.” (Yes, I hired the person.)

  1. Be mindful of the time.

Always be punctual for your scheduled interview time! Being punctual is a sign of being a professional, as well as respect for the other person. Stick within the time frame your interview was scheduled for. (usually 45 minutes to 1 hour)

In 2021 employers are looking for candidates who’ll mesh with their workplace culture. Showing you belong will go a long way in making yourself a ‘no brainer’ to hire

24. Three Ways to Use Social Media to Impress Employers and Recruiters

Like it or not, and out of your control, before inviting you for an interview employers will scrutinize your digital footprint to see what you leave on social media platforms, online communities, and forums. 

Digital footprints are double-edged swords. Not having any social media presence or what can be considered a “bare minimum,” or “static” presence is a red flag. On the other hand, having an overly robust social media presence can appear to be flamboyant and narcissistic.

The standard advice is to not overshare on social media. However, what you share, particularly while actively looking for a new job, can impress, and therefore positively influence, employers and recruiters. According to the research, the top three items’ employers and recruiters like to see when researching a candidate’s social media presence are:

  • Written and/or design work
  • Engagement in volunteering, mentoring and non-profits 
  • Mutual connections 

The overarching theme: Is the candidate sharing to brag, or are they sharing to inform, educate and teach? In other words, is the candidate using social media to present themselves as an SME (Subject Matter Expert) within their field or industry? 

The key, which is an art, is to share content that will likely have the viewer judge you positively. (Human nature being what it is, there’s no guarantee how you’ll be judged.) Since social norms are constantly shifting, how a person’s social media is judged also changes. An example of ever-changing social media taboos is selfies. Not long ago, selfies were viewed as being self-centred; today, they’re not viewed that way.

Expect employers to search your social media for:

  • Posts about your workplace and your achievements.
  • Posts about your personal life.
  • Post regarding topics do you seem to have a passion for.
  • Comments you’re leaving.
  • What you’re sharing, retweeting, and liking. 
  • Blogs, articles, and posts you’ve written.

The key is to really believe in what you are saying (posting) and doing (pictures, videos). Avoid using profanity, name-calling, insulting, being deliberately offensive or controversial. (Being authentic is controversial enough.

I admit that there are things I post that may turn off potential employers and recruiters. However, I accept the consequences of my believing in something and possibly offending a prospective employer, which is never my intention. If that’s the case, then that company isn’t likely to be a fit for me.

My recommendation is, to be honest, respectful and show a glass-half-full, optimistic approach.

Let’s look at the three items I mentioned employers and recruiters like to see and how you can incorporate them into your social media.

Written and/or design work 

In 2021 successful job hunting requires having a LinkedIn profile that’s current and optimized. On your LinkedIn profile, park and share documents, reports, presentations, links to articles you’ve written and awards you’ve received.  

Keep in mind: Employers will read through your LinkedIn profile before deciding whether to schedule an interview with you.

Engaged in volunteering and mentoring  

On Instagram and Facebook, share photos of yourself volunteering at the local food bank, doing fundraising work or participating in a ‘run for a cure’ marathon. This shows you’re community-minded and which causes are close to your heart. 

Mutual connections 

Who you know and who knows you greatly influences your job search and career progression success. As much as it may offend some, human beings are much more comfortable being around people they have a direct or mutual connection with. Commonalities ease the creation of and are the foundation of solid relationships. Therefore, the advice I give most often to job seekers: “Search for your tribe!” Making finding where you belong a priority is the best compass a job seeker can use.

Use LinkedIn to reach out and connect with people within your city, region, field and industry. Connect with people whom you’ve worked with or went to school with. Engage (e.g., comment on posts, ask questions) with people who can help you in your job search and career. Once you connect with someone on LinkedIn, be sure to do so on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. (Assuming they have accounts on these platforms.) Yes, I’m advising you to get in people’s faces letting them know you exist and what you can offer as an employee.

Your social media activity can significantly positively impact your job search, including shorting its length. When job hunting, you want to use your digital footprint to your advantage. Therefore, remain focused on communicating your attributes to create a confident and employer-appealing digital footprint.

25. Being Desperate is a Turnoff with Employers

I’ve always gravitated towards candidates who show high confidence, pushing towards arrogance, thus why the classroom scene in Top Gun (1986 film) resonates with me.

Viper (Tom Skerritt): “Do you think your name will be on that plaque?”

Maverick (Tom Cruise): “Yes, sir.”

Viper: “That’s pretty arrogant, considering the company you’re in.”

Maverick: “Yes, sir.”

Viper: “I like that in a pilot.”

Job seekers aren’t doing themselves any favours when they come across as desperate, which I often see and sense. They’re aching to be in any employer/employee relationship as long as the employer passes basic muster. (Basic muster being defined as an employer willing to hire them.)

Regardless of the type of relationship you’re looking to form (friendship, romantic, business, employer/employee), desperation is unattractive.

When it comes to job hunting, you can’t be in a mindset of desperation when going after the job you want. People sense desperation. Neediness and lack of confident eye contact are considerable distinctions. A confident person is attractive and therefore memorable. A desperate person not only shows they’re lacking confidence, they’re also off-putting. 

Having literally conducted 1,000s of interviews, I can sense a candidate’s desperation—that they just want any job—which never sits well with me. 

While easier said than done, you need to empower yourself as a candidate, which in turn will boost your confidence. Empowerment is achieved by positioning yourself as a solutions provider (READ: problem-solver), which is contrary to being just another job seeker. Think of the difference between “I need the job you’re offering.” and “I want to help you.” Which is more attractive?

The distinction is powerful. It’ll be noticeable to the hiring manager. The average job seeker goes into an interview simply looking to fill an open position to collect a paycheck. Conversely, a solutions provider approaches an interview as a fact-finding mission to determine how their skills and experience align with the problem(s) the hiring manager is trying to solve. 

What problem(s) Nick?

The problem(s) the job exists to solve.

For example, sales positions exist to solve the employer’s problem of creating and maintaining revenue flow. Accounting positions exist to solve the employer’s problem of managing the money coming in, making sure government taxes are paid and minimizing financial waste.

The next time you read a job posting, ask yourself:

  • What’s the main objective(s) of the job? 
  • What tasks of the job have the most impact on the company?
  • What suggestions can I offer that’ll improve the role itself? 
  • What is the employer’s most significant challenges currently? (This’ll require research on your part.)
  • How can you, in the role, address those challenges?

Having answers to these questions changes the dynamics of the interview. Now you’re approaching the interview as a problem-solver, which creates more of a consultative conversation and puts you in control.

Candidate: “Nile, from what you’ve told me and what I’ve read online, Vandelay Industries has been trying to break into the eastern Canada market for quite some time. I know Cyberdyne Systems is giving you stiff competition—your market share growth hasn’t been as robust as you’d like.”

Interviewer: “Yes, Cyberdyne Systems is a formidable competitor, which is why we’re looking for a new business development manager to oversee the Atlantic provinces.”

Candidate: “I faced a similar situation when I was with Wayne Enterprises. My advice isn’t to go head-to-head with Cyberdyne Systems comparing prices, which your marketing material does. Based on my experience, my discussions with potential clients would revolve around Vandelay Industries being Canadian and nimble—not a foreign oversize bureaucratic organization they have to navigate. Have you ever thought of being more forthcoming about Vandelay Industries’ history, being founded in 1908 in Waterloo? Vandelay is a rare Canadian success story which you should tell more aggressively; it would build confidence in the market.”

Imagine how this conversation continues. Who’ll be in the driver’s seat? The candidate isn’t looking to simply “take a paycheck” from the company; they’re looking to be an employee looking after the company’s best interest.

Holistically a job interview boils down to you asking for a chance. Therefore, the candidate who projects the confidence they can solve the problem(s) the role exists to solve will most likely be given a chance.

Approaching your interviews with confidence and as a problem-solver will tip the scale in your favour—being desperate will do the opposite.

26. Confronting Your Reality is Vital to Your Job Search Success

There’s one timeline and one reality.

When former U.S. vice-presidential candidate, naval officer and Vietnam prisoner of war James Stockdale was asked who struggled the most in the Hỏa Lò Prison (aka. “Hanoi Hilton”), he answered, “the optimists.”

Stockdale said, somewhat paradoxically, that as POWs, it was the optimists who got crushed. The ones who deceived themselves with unreasonable expectations, who tried to avoid the brutal facts of their reality; “they died of a broken heart.” Stockdale said what you need when circumstances are darkest is a blend of appreciation for what is in your control and an acceptance of what is not. This was the key to his survival.

I can’t think of any greater yin and yang than optimism versus reality.

The situation you’re in right now isn’t your fault. You didn’t cause the pandemic, your job loss, the hyper-competitive job market, nor how long the pandemic has been dragging on. You didn’t ask for this miserable period. 

The ability to acknowledge (Better yet, embrace.) your current reality, the situation, and the environment you currently find yourself in and balance it with optimism will serve you well throughout your job search. Such paradoxical thinking has been one of the defining philosophies for great leaders making it through hardship and reaching their goals.

We all know too much of anything is bad. Too much optimism can be mentally crippling, especially finger-crossing, on your knees praying optimism that fixates on conditional hopes and wishful thinking about things outside your control. (e.g., how an employer chooses to hire)

While optimism is good; otherwise, why would you move forward, excessive optimism can cause you to:

  • not acknowledge and accept what you can’t change.
  • soothe your ego and fears with wishful thinking.
  • view the world through rose-coloured glasses.
  • envy those you deem more successful than you, who you think has it easier than you, or tell yourself “They’re privileged.”
  • play the “I’m a victim” game.

Conducting an efficient job search requires knowing yourself and clearly seeing the employment landscape for what it is. (What you’re up against.) When it comes to job hunting, the best approach is to accept that employers own their hiring process, not you. Wishful thinking, created by optimism and a sense of entitlement has no place in a job search.

You may wish employers would simply “get you” and see what a great employee you’d be. The reality is you need to sell yourself and not expect hiring managers to connect the dots between your skills and experience and the job they’re trying to fill. You may wish employers would look past their biases. All human beings, you, and I, carry biases which significantly influence our decisions. Hiring managers are human beings.

Your “wish how employers were” list is probably long—it’s also distorting your mindset and making you frustrated and unhappy. It doesn’t change how employers hire.

Then there’s your competition. Don’t kid yourself; job hunting is a competitive activity. 

Most job search heartbreaks result from job seekers overestimating their abilities—we’re never as good as we think we are—and underestimating their competition. The reality is many rockstar candidates are vying for the same jobs you are.

Here’s one “life rub” we’ve all experienced; competing with someone who’s so good at what they do that it seems unfair. Regardless of how your resume and LinkedIn read, I guarantee you are up against job seekers who are hungrier, more skilled, charismatic, and talented than you.

There’s nothing more painful during a job search than to fall in love with a position, believe that it’s yours and then not get hired. This is where pessimism has its perks. Assuming that you won’t get the job might not make you feel good—that is, until you don’t get the job. If you assumed all along that you wouldn’t get picked for the position (and then you don’t), it’ll still sting, but not as much as if you had believed you were a shoo-in for the job all along.

Weird as this may sound, pessimism manages your expectations and, therefore, can improve your mood and confidence.

Ultimately, the goal is to be neither overly optimistic nor entirely pessimistic. When conducting a job search, keep in mind all you can control is consistently doing your best and graciously accept rejection. This is how you build resilience, which in today’s job market is a must-have. Resilience is why Stockdale was able to survive seven-and-a-half years in the Hanoi Hilton.

27. Why Should an Employer Give You a Chance?

In the back of their mind, your interviewer is asking themselves: Why should I hire this person? (Give you a chance.)

When you’re sitting in front of your interviewer, they’re asking themselves several questions:

  • Will this person fit in with the current team?
  • What will my boss, and the current team, think of my hiring this person?
  • Can this person hit the ground running?
  • Is this person manageable?
  • Is this person a flight risk?

An interview is a sales meeting. If you hope to make the sale (get hired) as the seller (job seeker), you’re going to need to provide several benefits why the buyer (the employer) should buy what you’re selling (your skills, experiences, ability to obtain results).

Every professional salesperson knows the adage, “Features tell, benefits sell.” Numbers, whether your results (revenue generation, process improvement), savings (money, time), increasing profit margins, reducing inventory shrinkage—whatever results you achieved for your employer that positively impacted their bottom-line—are the benefits (you’re able to achieve results) of hiring you.

In the business world, numbers are king. Numbers are how success and failure are quantified. (e.g., profit vs. loss, customer satisfaction scores, monetary savings, retention rate, share value increasing or decreasing, percentage of market share) Therefore, when selling yourself, you need to be talking numbers—the language of business. As much as possible, use numbers to quantify your skills, experience, and, most importantly, your results. You want to give your prospective employer a semblance of what can expect from you—what their ROI from hiring you will probably be.

Providing numbers that quantify has many benefits when it comes to selling yourself.

  • Gives credibility
  • Paints a clear picture of your previous work environment and your results.
  • Numbers have an equivalency of being tangible. Numbers aren’t merely your opinions. (Employers hire to achieve results. They don’t hire opinions.)
  • Offers a sense of what ROI the employer can expect from you.

There’s a huge difference between a candidate who says, “I’m a team player.” versus “For 6 years I was part of a team of 8 inside sales reps collectively responsible for reaching an annual sales target of $15 million. Last year I exceeded my sales target of $1.875,000 by 20%, ending the year with $2,250,000 in sales. The average medical device Medicado sells for around $1,500, which means I sold approximately 150 medical devices.”

Which candidate gives a better picture regarding what an employer can expect from them as an employee:

Candidate A: “I took calls from customers.” 

Candidate B: “I took on average 50 to 80 calls daily from existing Wonka Industries customers. I’d say approximately 40% of the calls were complaints, which I would rectify. However, the other 60% of the calls were from customers looking to know more about Wonka’s products lines. These calls were a chance for me to sell the caller on our many product offerings rather than for the caller to go to our competitors. Last year I sold over $2.6 million, which was the highest sales out of 15 CSRs in my call centre.”

How about this comparison: 

Candidate A: “I was the top salesperson for my division for 3 years.” 

Candidate B: “In 2018, 2019 & 2020, I was the top salesperson for Pinkbridge’s Quebec and Atlantic provinces region, which comprised of 5 salespeople. I had to make good use of my French speaking skills. In the fourteen years I was with Pinkbridge, there wasn’t a year when I didn’t exceed my sales quota by less than 30%. Last year I brought in $9.3 million in direct revenue.”  

You can see how using numbers greatly enhances how your interviewer can envision your achievement(s) and the expected results you’d bring to the business. This is how you sell yourself!

It goes without saying, without a healthy revenue stream, a business will not exist; therefore, the only number that counts in business is revenue. So, as much as possible, quantify how the results you achieved for your previous employers impacted their bottom line. This can be in the way of revenue generation, savings or process improvements that enhance productivity.

Here’s a tip: When wrapping up your next interview, say something along the lines of, “As my resume indicates, I did over $5.5 million in revenue (or insert whatever results you achieved) for JBonded Inc. I know I can do the same for Rivertronics.”

Using numbers is how you answer the interviewer’s question: Why should I hire this person?

28. Vegas Has Its Odds, so Does Your Job Search

Job seekers mentally carry one of 2 narratives. 

The first narrative is that “isms” (e.g., racism, ageism, nepotism) stack the odds against them. Fueled by a sense of entitlement, this is the limiting belief narrative the “I’m a victim!” crowd carries. This narrative is easy to adopt. It absolves the job seeker from networking, being responsible for how they present themselves to employers and acquiring the necessary education and skills to be competitive in today’s job market. 

The second narrative, which few job seekers embrace, is that you’re in complete control of your odds of finding a job that ticks off most of your “would like to have.” This narrative empowers job seekers.

Okay, “complete” may be an exaggeration. However, you have more control over your job search odds than you think you do.

Here are four ways you can stack the odds of landing your dream job with your employer of choice in your favour:  

  1. Non-negotiable: Create and maintain a professional network.  

My current job, and my previous three, presented themselves to me via my professional network. The most obvious way to stack the odds of finding a great job in your favour is to NETWORK! 

A professional network will serve you well during your job searches (You’ll likely conduct several throughout your working life.) and your career. Those who network land the jobs you envy you’d have. Desirable jobs (aka. “plum jobs”) and C-suite executive and above positions are rarely advertised, thus the existence of the “hidden job market,” which I’m sure you’re aware of.


Don’t know how to network or where to start? I suggest you read the following two books:

  • Never Eat Alone: And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time, by Keith Ferrazzi
  • Taking the work Out of Networking: An Introvert’s Guide to Making Connections That Count, by Karen Wickre
  1. Deal with the hiring manager.

Sitting at home applying online is fooling yourself, believing you’re “seriously job hunting.” 

I equate applying online to playing the lottery; you’re hoping (fingers-crossed, praying) that a stranger will hire you. Why would you expect someone who doesn’t know you to hire you over those in their network, referrals or from within their company? Keep in mind, if the job opening is your dream job, then it’s also the dream job for at least 100 others as well, who are just as qualified as you. Therefore, as much as possible apply directly to the person who can say “yes” to hiring you.

Find out who the hiring manager is (I know this isn’t always possible, but often it is.) and apply directly to them. Not being part of the 100s, sometimes 1,000s, of applicants applying online for the one job opening increases your odds significantly. 

Ideally, you’re able to leverage your professional network to be referred to the hiring manager. However, supposing a referral isn’t possible, then I suggest you apply online and send the hiring manager a brief email along the lines of:

Dear [NAME]:

I recently submitted my application for the role of [POSITION], which I’m very interested in, as well as joining [COMPANY]; therefore, I wanted to send you a copy of my resume. I would greatly appreciate the opportunity to discuss my [2-3 REQUIRED SKILLS LISTED IN THE JOB POST] skills related to the position.

I look forward to hearing from you.



  1. Look for your tribe.

The advice I give most often to job seekers: “Search for your tribe!” Seeking employers who’ll most likely accept you, where you’ll feel you belong, will significantly increase your odds. Think: “I’m not looking for a job; I’m looking for my tribe!”

Before approaching an employer, ask yourself, “Will I (holistically) be a fit?”

  1. Create a results-oriented résumé and LinkedIn profile

In 2021 every employee needs to be an undeniable asset to their employer.

Your résumé and LinkedIn profile need to answer the question all hiring managers have: What value did this person bring to their employers? (READ: How did this person positively impact your employer’s bottom line?) Employers want to see a job seeker’s potential value and therefore gravitate to job seekers who clearly communicate how their results positively impacted their previous employers. 

In Las Vegas, there’s one certainty: The house always comes out the winner in the end. That’s because all casino games are designed to provide the house with odds in their favour. Design your job search activities so the odds are in your favour.

29. Commenting on LinkedIn Will Get You Noticed

If you’re searching for a job, your priority needs to be having, and maintaining, an employer magnet LinkedIn profile. This includes, but isn’t limited to, a current profile picture, a summary that compellingly tells your career story, plenty of quantified achievements (In business numbers are king.), uploaded projects, articles, and videos—anything that clearly demonstrates the skills, experience, and possible results you can bring to an employer.

Your LinkedIn profile, which employers will read through to decide whether you’re “interview worthy,” needs to answer one question: Why should I take a risk hiring this person?

Once you have a WOW! LinkedIn profile, your next step is to get employers, hiring managers, recruiters, human resources managers and executives to view your profile. Unless your profile is getting views, it’s simply floating around on LinkedIn among the hundreds of millions of other profiles. 

The more views your profile receives, the greater the odds you’ll receive reach outs regarding job opportunities. While there are several ways you can influence the number of views your profile receives, the easiest method is to comment on LinkedIn posts.

Before you start commenting, you need to realize not all comments are created equal. You want your comments to stand out and create engagement with the comment’s author and the other commentators. So, before hitting the “comment” button, consider the following:

  1. Mention/Acknowledge the author.

When commenting, the golden rule is to mention (reference or acknowledge) the post’s author, to get their attention. To mention the author (or anyone on LinkedIn), type the ‘@’ symbol (at sign) and begin typing the person’s name, which will show in a dropdown box. Important to note: Just typing the author’s name will not notify them they’ve been mentioned. When using the aforementioned method, the person’s name will be bold, thus indicating they’ll receive a LinkedIn notification you mentioned them.

Example: “Nick Kossovan Depends on your position. Higher in the hierarchy? Don’t do it!”

You can also get the attention of other commentators by mentioning them, thus keeping the conversation going.

Example: “I agree with this completely, Nick Kossovan. Many folks kept their communities afloat with volunteer work, which I know Jughead Jones, and Archie Andrews can attest to. They may not be getting paid for their efforts, but they’re gaining and enhancing skills that can benefit employers.”

  1. Read the post.

Comments such as “Great post!”, “Thanks for sharing.”, “I completely agree.” and “You nailed it!” in no way shows you actually read the post, understood it or why you agreed/disagreed with it. 

Take two to five minutes to read the posts and give thoughtful feedback.

Example: “Nick Kossovan, I understand what you’re saying. From my experience, some employers are hiring based on who they know for jobs that pay at least $21 per hour. If employers were only hiring based on educational level and qualifications, I would have already gotten a job that pays at least $21 per hour at my educational level.”

Example: “Thanks for sharing, Nick Kossovan! Indeed, job seekers need to show who they are professionals in a way that sells their skills and abilities. You mentioning in business numbers are king resonated with me.”  

  1. Ask a question.

The most effective way to bond with someone is to ask them questions. Also, asking questions shows you’re open to learning, which is a turn-on with employers. Is there anything you didn’t understand, you would like to know more about, or you feel could be viewed from a different angle? Ask!

Example: “Nick Kossovan How were you able to increase your call centre’s customer satisfaction score from 72% to 94% in less than 8 months?” 

Choosing the best posts to comment on is critical—choose strategically. (e.g., posts by executives of companies you want to work for). Look for posts that have a high number of comments, and therefore popular. Commenting on popular posts increases the likelihood other commenters will read your comment and engage with it. 

TIP: Research who the thought leaders are in your profession and industry. Find them on LinkedIn and start building a relationship with them by commenting on their posts and comments by their followers. (Many of whom will be in a position to hire.)

Make commenting on LinkedIn posts part of your job search and career management routine. Aim to comment on three posts in the morning and three in the evening, and you’ll start seeing your profile receiving more profile views, which can do wonders for your job search.

30. Red Flags to Watch Out for When Choosing an Employer

We all create narratives based on what we think is important. We see what we want to see. Just because you’re not looking at something doesn’t mean it’s not there.

I’m telling you this, so you know as a job seeker I’ve been there.

Job seekers desperate to get back on a payroll to pay their bills and stop using their savings tend to overlook red flags. With your fingers crossed that the ensuing employer/employee relationship will work out, they want an employer to make them an offer.

Employers own their hiring process. They design their hiring process to ensure they hire the best person—the candidate that best serves their self-interest. Your self-interest is not the employer’s concern—nor it should be—and therefore is on you to look after. Complaining how employers hire is futile and wasted energy.

As a job seeker, you need to be diligent in determining whether a potential employer is right for you and your career. Before accepting a job offer vet the employer to make certain the opportunities and work environment is accurate and will serve “most of” your self-interests. You don’t want to find out, after joining, that the company, your job, or your boss isn’t a good fit for you. I’ve been there—not fun.

Don’t ignore red flags because you want to see an end to your job search.

When assessing an employer, look for these red flags:

  1. They’re too eager to hire you.

I’ll admit more than once I was taken in by a hiring manager stroking my ego. (“You’re just the person we need.”, “You have much more experience than the candidates who’ve applied for this position—Thank you for applying.”, “I can see you doing great things around here and moving up fast.”) Gushing flattery feels good; however, it usually comes with an agenda, an agenda not always in your favour.

There’s a big difference between an employer pursuing you versus being too eager to hire you. Be wary of employers who move quickly through the hiring process. Depending on the position, expect at least three interviews (a video teleconferencing “get to know you” interview and two face-to-face interviews, one with the manager you’ll be reporting to.)

  1. The employer is always hiring.

An employer having many job postings can mean they’re in a growth phase; it can also mean they’re having problems with retention. This may especially be true if the employer is reposting the same roles repeatedly.

I always ask my interviewer what’s their tenure with the company is. Then I ask what’s the tenure of certain key people (Regional Managers, Directors, VPs, the President) and who’s the most tenured in the department I’ll be joining.

  1. You’re not comfortable with the work environment.

From the moment you start the video call with the interviewer, when you visit the company, or meet employees you’ll be working with, if something doesn’t sit right with you—something seems off, you’re getting a bad vibe—don’t ignore your feeling. I believe in feeling negative energy just like I can feel positive energy. If the employees don’t seem actively engaged, that’s a telling sign. 

TIP: Since my career revolves around people management, I always ask to meet, ideally over coffee or lunch, with those who’ll be reporting to me. A few times, I’ve been discouraged from doing so (e.g., “Their schedules varies, it’ll be hard to arrange.”, “Raj is off for the next two weeks, and we’d like to make you an offer today so you can start on the 21st.”) and ended the interview then. 

Being discouraged from visiting what’ll be your actual workplace, meeting your potential team members and reports, if applicable, is a huge red flag!

  1. Unfavorable reviews.

Your employer’s reputation has a significant influence on your career. Go on Indeed, Glassdoor, MouthShut, or type in Google the company name and then “reviews.” See what employees, current and ex, are saying about the company you’re interviewing with. As well, check out the comments on the company’s social media channels.

I’ve gone as far as to look up on LinkedIn past employees and reach out to them. In several cases, I was glad I did. Don’t dismiss negative reviews as disgruntled employees venting or trying to get back at their employer.

As you conduct your job search, pay attention to your instincts-your gut feel. A gut check can save you from ending up in a terrible company or job.

31. Influence What Your Interviewer Thinks of You

There’s a good chance you’ve read Dale Carnegie’s best-selling book How to Win Friends and Influence People. Carnegie’s book details how to leverage human psychology to influence people, which is gold when your goal is to get your interviewer to green light hiring you. The sections ‘Six Ways to Make People Like You’ and ‘Twelve Ways to Win People to Your Way of Thinking’ offer suggestions that can be incredibly potent to your job search success, as well as career success. 

Everyone has felt anxious and powerless talking to a hiring manager. I know I have when I was first interviewing, especially if my interviewer was the gatekeeper, between me and what I thought was my dream job. 

I finally realized my nervousness was because I wasn’t setting the stage for the discussion I wanted to have. I wasn’t controlling the “conversation frame.”

Only one person controls the conversation frame: Either I or the other person. (e.g., my interviewer) When my interviewer does, they’re calling the shots. They’re expecting me to chase them, demonstrate my value as an employee, impress them with my background, show how much I want to work for them, etc. Sound familiar? When I allowed my interviewer to control the frame, I had no control over the outcome—I was hoping to “get lucky.” 

Years ago, after walking out of an interview, I knew I could have done better; I asked myself, what if I had controlled the frame of the conversation? How would my interviewer have reacted differently? I’ll tell you how. There’s a good chance (There’s no guarantee, humans are unpredictable.) they’d have said to themselves, “Wow! Who is this person?” and think, “This person knows who they are and what they want.” Of all the personality traits you can project, having confidence is by far the most attractive. All of us are attracted to those who exude confidence. Think what makes Brad Pitt “BRAD PITT!”; it’s how he exudes confidence.

When you control the frame of the conversation, your interviewer will seek your approval. (Yes, I’ve experienced this.) They’ll start talking to you more. They’ll care more about what you think of them and their company. They’ll want you to like them. Now, you’re the one calling the shots, and your interviewer is the one responding, reacting, and chasing. When you own “the frame,” you have the power to control what your interviewer thinks of you. So how do you control the frame?

You start by not treating job interviews as a delicate ego dance in which you’re bending over backwards trying to present your best self while hoping to not cross the line between enthusiasm and groveling. The notion of a job interview as an audition is antiquated. Such a mindset doesn’t do you any favours. When you overly focus on impressing your interviewer(s), you lose sight of whether they’re making an effort to impress you.

Flip your thinking. Stop thinking you’re in the hot seat! Instead, ask yourself how an in-demand candidate (Envision yourself as being such a candidate.), one who’s constantly head-hunted, would treat a meeting with a potential employer. They’d use their face time to ask questions to evaluate the employer and gauge whether the opportunity fits their career plan. 

Candidates I gravitate to ask me straightforward questions (Being unambiguous is a huge plus with me.) that show they’re curious and serious about a mutual fit. Such candidates get me talking.

Ask questions to fully understand the job opportunity, which’ll shed light on the company’s operations and your future boss’s management style. “How will you manage me?” (Presuming you’re speaking with the person you’ll be reporting to.) Don’t waste your questions on softballs. If you’re interviewing at a company that’s undergone a round of layoffs, address it head-on. “In August Burns Industries laid off over 250 employees in its Alberta manufacturing plant. How do you see the next 2 years looking like for Burns Industries?”

If the role is new, ask why it was created and why no one internally was promoted? You want to get a semblance of what you may be walking into. 

Because interviews involve human bias, which you can’t control, they’re unpredictable. However, there’s one thing you’ll always be able to control, the “conversation frame,” which’ll greatly influence how your interviewer thinks of you.

On an end note, if you haven’t read How to Win Friends and Influence People, I recommend you do; it’ll significantly impact your job search and career.

32. As an Employee Will You Be High Maintenance?

There are two types of interviews I conduct:

  1. Interviews where I’m post-vetting, and giving my approval, a candidate a member of my team has interviewed and would like to hire. I’m part of the check and balance aspect of the hiring process.


  1. Interviews where the candidate will be reporting directly to me. When conducting such interviews, my goal is to determine whether the candidate fits me, my team and will be viewed by my boss as a good hire.

Whichever interview I’m conducting I have a question in the back of my head: Will this person be high maintenance?

Regarding job hunting and your career trajectory, here’s something to keep in mind: Being likeable supersedes your skills and experience. Equally important is coming across as someone who’s not difficult to work with, who won’t upset the current team dynamics and who won’t take up too much of management’s time.  

Reflect on the interviews you thought you “nailed” yet didn’t get hired. While there are infinite possible reasons why you didn’t get hired, the two most likely are (a) you weren’t deemed a fit, or (b) you were seen as someone who’d be high maintenance—you were judged to be someone who’d bring issues, such as absenteeism, lateness, drama, into the workplace.

Besides selling your skills and experience during an interview pay attention to presenting yourself as someone your interviewer can see themselves working with, with as few issues as possible.

Candidates will tell me all kinds of things, which I assume is their attempt at being personable. Unfortunately, many times, even though they have the skills and experience I’m looking for and would be a good fit, they tell me things that make me think they’ll be high maintenance, the most common being:

  1. “I hate my job,” or “I dislike my boss.”

An interview is not a venting session! Bad-mouthing your ex-employer, or current, makes you come across as being immature. In several instances, after some probing, I determined it was a sense of entitlement (The biggest turn-off of all.) that was skewing the candidate’s judgement of their job and/or boss. 

You know you’ll be asked why you’re looking for a new job or why you applied job, therefore have a brief answer ready. “Now that I have my CPA, I’m ready to take on more accounting responsibilities with a larger company such as MomCorp,” or “The pandemic hit the hospitality industry extremely hard. Understandably Kellerman’s Resort had to lay off over 80% of its staff, which I was part of.” 

  1. “What’s the salary?” or “‘What do your perks and benefits look like?”

When you ask questions regarding salary, perks (“Will I get a discount in Leftorium’s stores?), benefits or how many paid sick days, and vacation days you’ll get, your interviewer will rightfully assume your priority is what you can get from the company, not what you can contribute to the company’s success, and you’ll max out your sick days.

Focus on selling yourself and the skills you’d bring to the role. Let your interviewer bring up compensation.

  1. Offering unnecessary personal details.

It never ceases to amaze me the unsolicited personal details candidates will tell me. It’s my experience such candidates tend to cause drama.

Once I conducted a “formality vetting” interview, in which my team leader sat in. On the candidate’s resume, I noticed they lived in a part of Toronto I was familiar with and asked, “Do you ever go to Sneaky Dees?” It turned out the candidate was a musician who often played Sneaky Dees upstairs venue. For 20 minutes, he told me his “Sneaky Dees” stories, offering TMI (Too Much Information), which was to his detriment. Afterwards, I turned to my team leader, who’d interviewed this candidate for 45 minutes. I said, “You’d be surprised at what people will say to an interested stranger.” 

Never offer personal details that are irrelevant to your ability to perform the job you’re interviewing for. I don’t need to know about your messy divorce or financial struggles, or medical history. (Unless you need medical accommodation.) Likewise, avoid sharing your personal views on politics or religion.

Getting hired today requires more than selling your skills, experience and being judged you’ll be a fit. You need to show that you’re easy to work with and will not upset the current work environment. You’ll not be doing your job search any favours if you appear to be someone who’ll be high maintenance.

33. 4 Ways to Kill Your Chances With a Hiring Manager

The hiring process is fraught with human bias, which you have no control over. As much as possible you don’t want to feed your interviewer’s biases and turn them off. While the government tries to legislate employers not to be “biased,” the fact remains biases are subjective and difficult to prove in court.

Don’t waste your job search energy concerning yourself with, or trying to fight, employer biases, which will always exist to some degree. Holding onto the belief one-day human biases will be 100% eliminated is wishful thinking.

Hiring is the act of choosing. The act of choosing requires the hiring manager(s) to discriminate. (a person’s “biases” directs their discrimination) It could be argued that when a hiring manager chooses not to hire someone, they’re “technically discriminating against them. How else do you expect employers to whittle down 500 applicants to one hire?

All you can do is mitigate the odds of turning off your interviewer by not consciously fueling their biases. Here are the four most common ways (there’re many more) job seekers fuel a hiring manager’s biases. 

  1. Their resume, and LinkedIn profile, lacks numbers that quantify their results.

It’s raining resumes. The chances of landing an interview with a generic resume/LinkedIn profile are slim, but let’s say you lucked out. Clichés such as “I’m a team player.” or “I’m detail-oriented.” are meaningless and are open to interpretation. How we interpret is based on our experiences and biases. 

If you’re in the market for a new car, would you gravitate towards an ad that claims the “The General Lee is fast!” or “The Batmobile, having a 5.7-litre V8 engine, goes from 0 to 60 in less than 4 seconds.”?

Numbers, which in this case number quantify The Batmobile’s engine and speed, removed a person having to interpret what’s “fast.” (Maybe The General Lee is faster, but without numbers to quantify its speed, how would we know?)

Replace generic resume bullet-point statements with result-achieved statements. For example, replace “Collected survey data from email subscribers” with “Collected survey data from 8,500 email subscribers. In 2020 this data was used to implement 4 marketing strategies that increased average order size by 32% compared to 2019.”

  1. Aggressive about career advancement.

These days employees are churning. As a result, hiring managers are more mindful to not hire candidates they assume (another word of “bias”) will be a flight risk. 

Keep your interview discussion on what you can do for the employer. Avoid discussing your hopes for career advancement or coming across as being entitled. Instead, have several relevant examples of past successes and accomplishments at your fingertips (aka, STAR stories — Situation, Task, Action, Result) and leave your career ambitions aside.

  1. Being excessively forthcoming about weaknesses.

Be careful how you answer, “What are your greatest weaknesses?” If you confide you struggle balancing family responsibilities with your work schedule, the hiring manager’s biases (READ: assumption) will kick in, which won’t be in your favour.

When I’m hiring, I’m looking to find the best candidate who’ll be a fit. I’m also looking to manage risk. Given my hiring experiences, your weakness mentioned above will probably have me assume:

  • You’ll have a lateness issue.
  • Will be asking for time off to deal with family matters.
  • Will be making/taking lots of personal calls.

There’s a formula to answering the “weakness question”: Experience + Learn = Grow.

“Back in March, my boss suddenly became ill and couldn’t conduct the already scheduled town hall. I offered to conduct the town hall, my first. It went alright but could have been much better—my PowerPoint skills were severely lacking. So, I’m now taking PowerPoint courses on Udemy. As a result, my PowerPoint skills have improved tremendously.”

  1. Lack of enthusiasm.

Excitement = Job offers

It’s not uncommon for me to have to choose between a qualified candidate on paper and a less qualified candidate who brings passion to the table. I’ve hired the latter every time. 

A candidate’s lack of enthusiasm offers many assumptions. They could be an introvert, which I believe is a manifestation of self-limiting beliefs. Maybe they aren’t interested in the job opportunity or are just looking to collect a paycheck. None of these assumptions work in the candidate’s favour.

It never hurts to state at the end of an interview, if you do want the job, with, “I’m very interested in this position and working for Wayne Enterprises. I hope for a positive outcome,” or a similar interview closing statement.  

34. Your Resume Needs to Start Strong or Risk Being Passed Over

During a job search, your resume and LinkedIn profile are your marketing material. For marketing material to be effective, it must make a proposition to the reader, not just cliché words, product bragging, or “artistic advertising.” An effective brochure will say to the reader: “Buy this product for these specific benefits.”

The hiring manager’s primary goal is to gauge whether you meet the qualifications for an open position and whether you’ll be able to hit the ground running or require a ramp-up period. (Being a good fit for the company’s culture is determined during the phone and face-to-face interview(s).) The immediate information on your resume determines whether the reader will read your entire resume and, fingers crossed, have you participate in the interview process.

A resume should be easy to read (bullet points) and loaded with quantified achievements (e.g., Since 2011, I’ve led 9 inside sales representatives to consistently exceed a department annual sales target of $15 million). Bullet-pointed resumes are more likely to pass the ATS (Application Tracking System-software that scans resume content and searches for keywords.) and a recruiter’s screening process. 

Compare how Robert Axelrod starts his resume versus Don Draper.

Robert Axelrod


A passionate results-oriented financial business leader with a unique blend of business savvy and hedge fund expertise. An intelligent investor with keen analytical skills and business foresight, constantly researching and keeping abreast of market trends. Analyzing different investment options and selecting the best ones for my clients. Oversee large investment portfolios making investment decisions such as buying and selling assets to maximize financial gains.

How long did it take you to read Robert’s paragraph? What did you learn about Robert? Can you tell what he does? Do you know what to expect from Robert should you hire him?

Now let’s look at how Don Draper begins his resume.

Don Draper

555-555-5555 | don.draper@email.com

4556 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 1807, Toronto, ON M1Y 3H8

Creative Director

  • 24 years advertising industry experience. Started as a copywriter, moved up to account manager, overseeing over $8.5 million in annual billings with Drentell, Arthur, Ashby (aka. DAA), then creative director at McMann & Tate.
  • Co-founded Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce Advertising Agency in 2004. (2020 billings: +$64 million). Currently leading a team of 12 copywriters.
  • Landed several high-profile accounts, such as Chevron Oil, Gillette, Hilton, Dow Chemicals, Mountain Dew and Ocean Spray. 
  • Since 2015, advisory board member for Interactive Advertising Bureau of Canada. (IAB Canada)

Do you see the difference? You know what Don does. You can envision Don’s potential value to an employer. Don doesn’t attempt to present his value using flowery words, unlike most job seekers. Instead, he lists his career accomplishments and uses numbers, the language of business, to quantify his results and establish himself as someone who can bring value to a company.  

I’m sure Robert is good at something, but I’m not sure what it is. Unfortunately for Robert, his resume opening doesn’t compel me to read his resume to figure out what he does well and whether he qualifies for the position he applied for. 

Don’t kid yourself; it’s raining resumes. Employers, especially those that are sought after, are inundated with resumes. To have any chance of being selected for an interview, you need a resume that’s ATS friendly and a showstopper when read by a human. Who wouldn’t want to read Don’s resume?

Since I brought up ATS, which over 90% of employers use, here are five things to remember when writing an ATS-friendly resume:


  1. Standard formatting. (Arial, Time Roman or Veranda font, size 11-12, 2.5 cm margins) 
  2. Keyword optimization. (Read the job posting carefully and identify role-specific keywords; use these along with industry keywords throughout your resume.)
  3. Send as a Word document. (A .doc or .docx file is easily processed by all ATS systems, however, even in 2021, some ATS have trouble processing a PDF document.)
  4. Spell out abbreviations. (An ATS may not understand all abbreviations. Use long-form and acronym versions of keywords.)
  5. Include pertinent information. (The ATS scans resumes for information relevant to the position you’re applying for.)

Once your resume passes the employer’s ATS, you’re still not entirely out of the woods yet—your resume will now be read by a human. Therefore, you want to make your value evident to the reader. Start your resume strong, so the reader will want to read your entire resume and hopefully say to themselves, “I’ve got to meet this person!”

35. Does Your Personality Show You’ll Be a Fit?

Employers want to see more than just industry experience and professional success. Yes, employers want to know you’re qualified for the position, but they also want to know you’ll fit into the culture of their company, which is hard to prove, let alone demonstrate. In order to assess your “cultural fit,” the interviewer must have a sense of your personality.

Something to keep in mind: When I hire, everyone I interview will have a resume that fits the job’s requirements; otherwise, I wouldn’t be interviewing them. For the most part, when you’re at the interview stage, your competition have similar backgrounds to yours. Therefore, my hiring decisions are often influenced by a candidate’s personality. 

When interviewing job candidates, I assess personality more than I evaluate skills. It’s through a candidate’s personality that I determine how well they’ll adapt, whether they’re dependable, and, most importantly, how well they’ll get along with current team members.

A uncomfortable job search truth: Being likeable supersedes your skills and experience.

While demonstrating your personality in an interview can be daunting—you’re trying to balance being authentic with being professional—focus on the following to bring out your personality and show you’ll be a fit. 

Appearance (the “visual”)

Your appearance is largely within your control, especially regarding what you wear.  

In the past, the advice was, “Dress for success,” or “Dress for the job you want.” My advice: “Dress for the company you’re hoping to join.” 

My career has arched many industries and companies. I know from experience companies have their own “unofficial uniform.” For instance, at Crocs, where I managed their customer service for several years, everyone dressed as if they were on vacation—and as to be expected wore Crocs. Therefore, I interviewed in a golf shirt and khakis and wore Crocs Men’s Santa Cruz Loafers without socks. In contrast, when I worked at Moneris, which is in the financial service industry, conservative business casual was the norm.

How you dress will be how your interviewer will judge if you’re “one of them.” When possible, I strongly recommend that you visit the company you’ll be interviewing with and see how employees dress.

You speak their language

  I believe the foundation for doing outstanding work starts with being able to communicate clearly and concisely. Hence, a candidate’s written and verbal communication skills are of utmost importance to me. In addition, if you speak my language—my jargon—then I know you and I are of the same “tribe.”

As a call centre manager, I can tell by the words and acronyms that candidates use if working in call centres is in their blood. (e.g., “The last call centre I managed had an AHT of slightly over 4 minutes and an ATT of less than 45 seconds.”)

When you’re speaking with your interviewer, especially if you’ll be reporting to them, speak the industry’s language. IT professionals have their own language, as do lawyers, medical professionals, engineers, retail managers, etc.


What’s the point of hiring you if you’re not dependable? 

The corporate world is hyper-competitive. More than ever, companies need all hands-on deck. Regular lateness and absenteeism make you a liability to the company and your coworkers, who must cover for you. 

Let your interviewer know they can depend on you. (e.g., “I live just 10 minutes away.”, “I live across the street from the Spadina subway station.”, “Last year, I only missed 2 days of work due to illness.”

A team player 

All jobs require collaboration, whether with colleagues, clients or outside contractors; thus, why employers value candidates who get along with various personalities and work styles. Your interview repertoire should include examples of how they worked in a team or collaboratively with individuals.  

A cultural fit 

I don’t know a hiring manager who doesn’t consider cultural fit. Every company’s culture is different, and each is founded on different core values. Employers want employees who embody their values. 

I always ask my interviewer what skills, attributes and personality traits are valued at XYZ Inc.? I then respond with how one of the attributes mentioned resonates with me. (e.g., “My organizational skills is why I’ve been able to successfully manage call centres with up to 150 agents.) Then, if I’m on my game, I’ll offer a STAR (Situation, Task, Action, and Result) story to back up how awesome my organizational skills are.  

Understanding what personality traits an employer you’d like to join looks for will greatly improve your job search success.